Day 65 (of 188) technologization – how to implement technology w curriculum (imo) @edutopia @SamGliksman

Day 65 (of 188) technologization – how to implement technology w curriculum (imo)

Today I read an Edutopia article about the “failed” implementation of technology in Los Angeles Public Schools: – within the article, they talk about some key lessons:

1. Change starts with a vision (fully agree – need to have a clearly articulated vision)

2.  Top-down strategies rarely work without communication and consensus (I can argue a bit here, but mainly about the word “and” – could be an “or” statement)

3. Training requires more than an introductory “how-to” workshop (yet none of my kids at home nor my students in my classroom have had an in-service for using tech…)

4. Technology should empower students (of course – if it’s not about enhancing Learning – and Learning differently than the past – why do it at all?)

5. It’s not about the device (until it’s about the device)

Overall a very good reflection article by Sam Gliksman on what should’ve (and still could) be an innovative movement…as long as the tech isn’t meant to do “traditional” teaching – in other words, making a worksheet a pdf does not mean it is digital learning.

Here’s my thoughts (based on these organizers) for how I have helped “technologize” my learning communities:

1. Vision: need a clear one – mine includes: tech is a great equalizer; but it enables learning to be done different than in the past (both good and bad) allowing a variety (differentiation) of output styles, and input methodologies! Simpler: it’s the new literacy that we all need to understand.

2. Top-Down: sometimes it needs to be “from the top” – but respectfully. Within my current learning community, “year one” was putting iPads into the hands of the teachers. Even the teacher who was soon to retire who looked at me with her glasses slipping down her nose asking “what do you expect me to do with this”. I smiled and didn’t directly answer, but encouraged “play with it” & let the students use it too. Not a HAVE TO statement, but an enabling one – and one that led to her asking for one for her retirement gift at the end of the year. When the adults were familiar (not necessarily fully comfortable, and definitely not experts) then we brought some more in for the students to use and encouraged BYOD. – with the discussion about tech as Tools vs tech as Toys.

3. Training: Play with the device. My teachers wanted “in-services” that never really became formally done. Instead it was lunch-chats and shares that helped these life-long-learners “explore through play”. And no deadline. Everyone learns at different rates and speeds. Those that could ‘adapt’ and move quick did, those that were still playing cribbage and cards on it to get used to it … did so without ‘penalty’.

4. After “comfort” was reached (not technological competence) by the adults, we started to bring in the mobile technology that would disrupt learning…and put more ownership and empowerment (esp “how” they learned/shared) into the hands of our students. This meant that ‘tech time’ was not just in a computer lab, but was in a classroom – where students were more comfortable than in the cubicles-minus-walls seen in most “labs”. And students were empowered. To bring in and use devices that they were comfortable using, and using devices to show their learning in different ways – not everyone had to write an essay….

5. It’s not about the device. Though many districts (some I have even been part of) like to say that and then “limit which device” can be used…which completely makes it “all about the device”. I am all about choice; even though I am a diehard Apple guy (from the first time I heard the hum of an Apple II) I’m not a ‘one size fits all guy’ either. I have sat in wonder seeing a colleague work wonders with a Blackberry Playbook (I struggled to figure out how to turn it on) and know that for some, iOS is the ‘right fit’ but not for all – it’s about finding the right tool for the right user – that is what will cause the needed tech disruption in Learning. I provided iPads to my staff (and students) because I have seen it’s ease of use – but I’m not limiting them; if they would prefer a different device, I will happily provide it – with the same caveat I have been told “I’ll get you the device, but be aware I may not be able to help you with it because I’m not familiar with it”.

Bonus: it’s a great time to be an educator – as long as you like change. Technology continues to become more affordable and as such, a greater disrupter in the learning journey. We are no longer bound by paper and pencils, but instead have a new portal to gather information, synthesize it and share it in unique ways. But anytime there is a paradigm shift, it takes time and patience. I believe I will always encourage the following model for implementing technology within a learning community:

1. Communicate. Survey the learning community to find out what they know, what they don’t know, what they think they need, and what they think they want.

2. Play. I am a believer in learning-through-play and that requires hands-on-tool time without a required “end of day product”. Just play and explore.

3. Provide right tool. Even though I’m not a desktop fan, I have used them as part of a “plan” for growth. Essentially – everyone starts with a desktop. Then when they are ready for mobility, they ‘graduate’ to a laptop (nobody has every expressed disappointment in this evolution) with the new wrinkle: many are able to skip the laptop and go right into a tablet – a huge mind shift. There is no “timeframe” though. Sorry.

4. Provide the right backbone. You can never spend too much on the backbone of a tech plan – strong wifi is what has helped our eportfolio project go as well as it has. Server storage can get filled up quick too if you’re under-prepared (for each student to create a 10 minute movie…..) – and really, you want the tech to be like a lightswitch (a significant tech disrupter in it’s own right) – you don’t necessarily know exactly how it works, but when you need it – it just works (or if it doesn’t, that’s a sign of a bigger problem!!)

5. Be adaptable. No 5 year plans. Even 2 year plans are sketchy. A recent conference keynote asked us to try to think back to a time before iPads (tablets)….a mere 4 years ago, yet their invasiveness has been awesome – especially to those of us who like tech disruptions and want schooling/learning/education to be “more” than it was when we were in school…in fact that’s what technology does: it brings learning outside the school walls and makes it a 24/7 opportunity – that is what the LAUSD should’ve focused on perhaps (or is that….could focus on still?)


About technolandy

Educator in BCs Sunny Shuswap Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback
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