Technology in our society should be more than a topic for superintendents and principals to use in speeches in order to make them sound as if they are cutting-edge educators. These speeches are given to impress groups of parents by drawing great pictures of students, who will have the ability to create, collaborate, communicate and learn with the modern tools of technology. The picture drawn shows our children liberated to learn. They sell the sizzle, but nobody will ever get to see the steak.
Those same technology tools for education become problems to be controlled and limited. They become problems because they are yet another element of education that requires Professional Development. They become problems as added items on an ever-growing list of items for which administrators are to be held responsible to the public. They become problems because they challenge many of the methods of teaching ingrained in the hearts and minds of many, many educators. These problems are of: money, implementation, support, professional development, safety, morality, cyber-bullying, scheduling, and infrastructure. We now have education policy makers making policies about technology with a limited understanding of how it fits in education as a tool for learning, or even how it works, and viewing it as more of a hindrance than a help. It would be so much easier if Technology went away and we could get back to the “Three R’s”, good ole’ read’n, rite’n, and rithmetic.
What many do not get is that Technology in Education is no longer a topic of Should we? or Could we?, but rather, “ How do we make it happen?” It is not a question of “How do we control it? but rather “How do we educate kids to use it effectively and responsibly?” How do we develop today’s literacy, so that students can use these skills beyond the classroom and apply them to life? How do we enable them to use these skills to be productive and successful and safe?
There are no answers here. These same arguments were made when the first computers entered the system. People discussed the same issues then. While educators are stuck on the same questions as to whether or not technology has a place in education, technology keeps moving forward. It does not need permission to be used by kids. Educators cannot control it. The only place the “Use It, or Lose it” axiom applies, is to our own relevance. If we fail to understand and use the technology, our students will not need us at some point. Technology is a tool and not a teacher, but if teachers fail to grasp that concept and do not embrace the possibilities, the idea of self-education may grow stronger with the advancement of technology in the light of stagnation in education. Educators are smart people and they need to figure this stuff out.
We did not have the use of pencil debates. We did not say pencils can poke eyes out, so we need pencil safety courses. We did not create pencil labs for large group pencil use. We did not ban the use of pencils because students might be distracted by doodling. We did require a specific platform, the #2 Pencil. Yes, I understand that it is a much more complex issue than that, but a tool is a tool is a tool. We need our leaders to be more aware of the decisions they are making. We do not need 19th century thinking controlling 21st century problems.
These topics were discussed at the #140 Character Conference in New York City. There were six education discussions on the Agenda. This video was one. The Education Panel Video: Click Here
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