I have been asked by a few different people to boil down the “essence” of teaching with technology, whatever that means. I doubt this is what they meant, but this is what they got, and I share it humbly with you.
Ten Truths about Teaching with Technology
1. Teaching WITHOUT technology is just not acceptable any longer. Can you imagine a teacher refusing to implement special education accommodations? It would be a travesty. Same thing with current technology. New generations of teachers will (I hope) realize that there are always going to be new technologies to master every year. Previous generations look at learning new technology as something they want to have to do once and then be done. We need to change the way we look at learning to integrate technology to see it as a fluid evolution and not a checklist of skills.
2. Online learning is inevitable, and is arriving soon. The only question at this point is the model upon which it will ultimately become standard. Students already learn plenty online. It would be nice if Algebra or French were a part of that.
3. Online learning does not mean students stare at screens for a majority of the time. Online learning is used to interact with instructors and other students about experiences that should be designed to be off-line. For instance, students video record the building of the volcano experiment, and then upload to a chat setting so others can give feedback on the process or result.
4. Powerpoints do not really signify effective instructive integration of technology. Face it, Powerpoints have their place, but they are essentially an overhead projector. True technology integration breaks the barrier between curriculum and student. A Powerpoint alone cannot do that.
5. Banning cell phone use in schools has created a problem. For years, teachers wished for a world where every student had a calendar, calculator, dictionary, and word processor with them at all times, and now that most students have it all in one device in their pockets, they are asked to keep them hidden. If teachers embrace the opportunity to harness the power of handheld devices, we put the power of the world at their fingertips. By vilifying the cell phone, we have told students that the device is only for fun, and has no real connection to learning at all. I doubt that’s going to be a good thing.
6. Education reform is about a lot of things, but the driver for all of them is society. Society is plugged in and online and collaborating like never before. Unfortunately, many classrooms seem to have missed the memo. Ed reform tries, clumsily, to address this schism.
7. Facebook and Twitter are the most powerful collaboration and communication tools ever seen on the planet. Both have toppled regimes and changed the world. How can we ignore their potential impact as teaching tools?
8. Bloom’s Taxonomy has never been more relevant, and learning with technology is at the top of the ladder. Any teacher, tutor, or pothead girlfriend can get a kid to memorize a few states and capitals; but textured, deep learning that includes real synthesis and evaluation of ideas is far more relevant in the global classroom.
9. Technology is cheap. In fact, many simple changes to accommodate students’ personal devices, to use cloud-based applications, and to utilize the expertise of people all over the world rather than just those who fit in the staff lounge, are all low-cost alternatives to very high-priced alternatives like adding staff or classrooms.
10. The shift needs to be bidirectional. Teachers who are early-adopters and innovators are important to the evolution, but administrators who cultivate a culture of innovation and engaged learning are key for any real progress into the 21st Century.