Day 62 (of 184) tech talk
I’ve put my foot in my mouth a few times while campaigning for the use of technology as an enhancement tool with curriculum. Most notably was my refusal to by an iPad until I could get them for our school. That delayed my use of the devices by almost three years….but after a couple of ‘changes’, I have managed to get mobile devices into the hands of my teachers and students. A significant shift since I came to a school with a desktop mindset and we completely leapfrogged my predicted movement of desktop to laptop to tablet….
As my twitter name state: technology, and my presentation at conferences about ‘technologization’ infer, I am a strong advocate for technology in schools. But as much as I like to explore the ‘latest and greatest’ technology and how it may/will impact schools, I’m not ‘just about the shiny new toy’.
Until Friday, I was still using an ‘old’ machine – a 6+ year old macbook pro to do much of my work….well, at least ‘my work on laptop’ – throughout the past year I have shifted most of my work onto an iPad. I now proudly state that I do 90% of my work as a principal on that device. The other 10% gets split between using my old macbook to compile videos from a variety of filming devices around the school to put together our Month In Review video – the other role of my district laptop was to print (long story about what devices can connect to our local network).
Friday I took a step back (to move two steps forward) and received my new MacBook Air. It has been a long time since I’ve fully been immersed in ‘up to date’ technology. And it feels very good. Although, I’m not even considering giving up the iPad – it will still be my dominant machine with the laptop providing support. I’m just not going to worry about my laptop dying on me nearly as much!
As much as I like the ‘new’ technology, there is a more direct goal of my push for bringing technology into the classroom:
When educators use technology effectively, it has a huge impact on learning.
I had a 1:1 laptop/student classroom that had amazing collaboration and a huge growth in classroom community. That was 7 years ago….
Our current shift to using a variety of mobile devices has had a dramatic impact on the culture of our school. As much as teachers are still using ‘computer lab time’ (at a K-5 school, routine and predictable transitions are key) they are also looking more and more to ‘technology as a tool’ and seeking ways for students who need to use tech, to do so.
That mindset has also impacted the classroom where each teacher has a projector, iPad and sound system. Teachers are asking me less and less for help (TV setups were bad, the projector setups have seemed much easier) and instead are looking for ways to ‘teach different’.
Our mindset continues to focus on ‘mobile learning’. And on ‘black friday’ I was happy to learn that we are going to be a test site for our district on how the AppleTV and Google Chromecast may help enhance the teaching in the classroom by allowing the teachers wireless connectivity to their projectors. The staff has been unanimous in searching for ways to encourage more mobility in student learning (the new www: wherever, whenever, whatever) and even been ‘okay’ with students bringing in their own devices (byod) to support their learning.
The emphasis of course being on supporting their learning – not playing with them. Or as our common language embraces: tools vs toys. Tools help the learning in our community, toys distract. Its important for everyone to know the difference.
Sometimes the shiny new toy is awesome, but more often it’s the change in thinking about what technology can do to enhance learning that has the biggest impact in the classroom, and on the individual learners – especially as they take greater ownership in what their learning looks like, and how their communicating their learning looks like. It’s good to be different