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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Are We Chasing Technology or Mastering It?

Slow down, you move too fast...

These are the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel's famous The 59th Street Bridge Song. Most think the title is "Feelin' Groovy" but like most S&G songs, the title makes you think a little more about the context of the song rather than simply giving it to you. You have to slow down and listen to each lyric and allow their harmonies to take you to their world.

These lyrics came into my head last night as I was participating in the fast moving stream of #edchat. The topic was "With the development of tech in our society, how prepared are educators?" My first reaction was why are we worried about pace? Why do we care how fast everyone is acclimating to technology inside or outside of the classroom? This is not why we teach. We teach, or at least I do, to provide students with fundamental skills that they can take with them beyond my classroom. I give them adaptability skills and present them with a variety of challenges in Language Arts daily. I move at a different pace than most of my colleagues, but I make sure I hit all of the standards and never move on until they are mastered.

So why are we concerned about pace or using "new" tools before we have mastered the ones we already have? I don't want my students to move to the next skill set before they have mastered their current set. As teachers we model this daily, yet we are so anxious to find the next tech tool or create the next buzzword in education. At this pace we are spreading ourselves too thin and short-changing our students. It is not the way to integrate technology or 21st century learning skills.

As a technology specialist I want to allow teachers to move at their own pace and allow them to use whichever learning tool suits them best. To other technology specialists, I would suggest that you present these slower moving colleagues with some ideas as you move ahead at a much different pace. Don't come at them aggressively or arrogantly, just say, "I have some ideas that may or may not help your lessons. Give them a try and if you need help, let me know." Give a collegial nod, and walk away.

If your colleagues use PowerPoint effectively and the kids are learning from it then let them go. Let them check it off as technology integration! Don't be one of the Tech-jocks and scoff at their slow uptake on the tech wave. Embrace them! Give them a short, resounding golf clap for stepping out of their comfort zone. And remember, not everyone teaches like you; just as our students don't all learn the same way.

Educators should not pace education at the same pace at which technology moves. It is far too fast, and too sudden. Technology is old when you buy it, however, content and skill sets have been thriving, although evolving, for years. When we combine the two tracks we can create a dynamic classroom environment. If we focus on a few tech tools a year and evolve those tools each year or each semester we will be giving our students a rich, dynamic curriculum.

Let's focus on what we have in education and master it before we move on to the next trend. The iPhone is a good example of how we should all pace our classrooms. Each year Apple comes out with a new iPhone. They expand and evolve the previous version while keeping the core elements in tact. They add a little each year without racing or worrying about what others are doing. They are confident with the product they have and understand that they can always make it better. And, last time I checked they do pretty well (save for that minor antenna issue).

Take this approach and pace in your own classroom this year. Allow your colleagues time to learn, evolve, and master before you start shouting WIKI! MOODLE! GOOGLE! DIIGO! TWITTER! in their face. As my uncle once wrote in my 21st Birthday card, "Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint."

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da...Feelin' Groovy.

Comments (25)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Ms.Teresa Faye ( Auton) Jackson's picture
Ms.Teresa Faye ( Auton) Jackson
Proud Mother of Destiny;4 Grandchildren:Tristen, Peyton,Joshua & Braydon

I commented last week where did it go? Yes, I am having a time. I can not use but... an hour time on this computer, my computer will be set up Wednesday.

cassiekat's picture

I agree that teachers are not trained very well in some types of technology. When I taught French at the University level, our workbooks were on-line. I was kind of thrown in the fire, so to speak.

I had a difficult time trying to maximize the webtools and often got frustrated. The book reps offered training sessions, but it was at a time I could not attend. Eventually I phased it out of my lessons.

Richard Scherer's picture

I believe that it is extremely important for us as educators to find ways to link our lessons to the latest technology. Our students must understand the numerous advantages that technology provides and understand the ways in which they can use it to better themselves. It is unfortunate that different devices are constantly being outdated, and schools could never afford to keep up with the changes. However, I believe that if students do not have core understandings of the material we are trying to teach, finding ways to link it to new technology will just be a waste of time. If we are going to link what we teach in the classroom to the latest technology, we must do it at a pace that the children can follow. The last thing we want is to intimidate them.

Donald Johnson's picture
Donald Johnson
Fired ex-Geography/Journalism/English teacher, Houston, Texas

One of the problems I see with technology integration is that it widens the information gap between those using it and those who are not even engaged. The inner city schools I taught in were far more likely to give excuses for why people "can't afford the Internet" than they were with providing the means to distribute usable computers to the disadvantaged and keep them virus-free and running.

I propose a class on computer repair which would collect all donated computers and refurbish those that are useful and safely recycle the parts of those which are not. The students would be trained to keep the computers in the school and later in the community running by cleaning up hard drives and showing where free programs exist that can maintain them.

Tom Miller's picture
Tom Miller
Community Technology Executive for OneCommunity in Cleveland Ohio.

[quote]One of the problems I see with technology integration is that it widens the information gap between those using it and those who are not even engaged. The inner city schools I taught in were far more likely to give excuses for why people "can't afford the Internet" than they were with providing the means to distribute usable computers to the disadvantaged and keep them virus-free and running.I propose a class on computer repair which would collect all donated computers and refurbish those that are useful and safely recycle the parts of those which are not. The students would be trained to keep the computers in the school and later in the community running by cleaning up hard drives and showing where free programs exist that can maintain them.[/quote]

There a many programs like this across the country. If you're interested in learning more, look at Cisco Academies, OneEconomy, and my company's Connect Your Community initiative (www.connectcommunity.org). Through an NTIA sustainable broadband grant, we're providing digital literacy training and supports to create sustainable broadband adopters.

Tom Miller's picture
Tom Miller
Community Technology Executive for OneCommunity in Cleveland Ohio.

[quote]One of the problems I see with technology integration is that it widens the information gap between those using it and those who are not even engaged. The inner city schools I taught in were far more likely to give excuses for why people "can't afford the Internet" than they were with providing the means to distribute usable computers to the disadvantaged and keep them virus-free and running.I propose a class on computer repair which would collect all donated computers and refurbish those that are useful and safely recycle the parts of those which are not. The students would be trained to keep the computers in the school and later in the community running by cleaning up hard drives and showing where free programs exist that can maintain them.[/quote]

There are many programs that support your ideas. Cisco Academies are awesome and OneEconomy also has a program. My company, OneCommunity has an NTIA funded Broadband Stimulus program called "Connect Your Community", which is providing digital literacy training and supports to create sustainable broadband adopters. On of our target demographics is parents/families. (www.connectcommunity.org).

Donald Johnson's picture
Donald Johnson
Fired ex-Geography/Journalism/English teacher, Houston, Texas

So far I've been unable to login at your site so I cannot determine if anything about this company is useful here in Houston. I can assure you that the threat of training people to clean their own computers would get the attention of the Geek Squad and other small companies making a living cleaning up computers at $35+ an hour.

Brittany Washburn's picture

I really enjoyed reading this and all of the comments. I agree with the ideas you present here. If teachers do not take the time to fully learn and integrate technology correctly, they could end up doing more damage to their lessons than good. Technology can be extremely distracting in a classroom when not used masterfully. I think more schools should take the time to train their teachers in the basics of technology. Professional development opportunities can provide more knowledge in the future. Without a strong foundation in technology, teachers will not have the confidence and enthusiasm to continue to use their new skills.

Tom Miller's picture
Tom Miller
Community Technology Executive for OneCommunity in Cleveland Ohio.

[quote]So far I've been unable to login at your site so I cannot determine if anything about this company is useful here in Houston. I can assure you that the threat of training people to clean their own computers would get the attention of the Geek Squad and other small companies making a living cleaning up computers at $35+ an hour.[/quote]

There are opportunities for all sectors of a community to participate and partner. Comprehensive programs need lots of stakeholders, each filling a need or gap. We're working with local schools, recyclers/refurbishers, "big box" retailers, community technology centers and community colleges, which are all contributing to the overall goals of the initiative. There is more info on our website if you're interested (www.onecommunity.org/connect-your-community).

Tim Trotta's picture

Technology is a great way of enhancing the learning environment. We should look at technology as a tool to get our students where they need to be. Unfortunately, many times schools/school districts purchase all this new technology and don't know what to do with it. Then they dump it on the teacher and say, "Learn how to use this stuff and be sure to incorporate it into your class." Administrators have to be able to justify why they spent such a good deal of money. Many times, teachers are not giving the proper training on the technology and don't have limited time to learn during the school year. While I do agree that we need to keep pace with technology to a degree, we do not have to be on the cutting edge. Just as we need to teach fundamentals to our students, we need to learn a lot of the fundamentals in technology. It does not good to move on to more advanced topics if we don't have the fundamentals down. In this way, making our own pace is a good idea.

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