Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Critical Mass

Have we reached a stage of critical mass in EdTech?
Has the hundredth monkey caught on to new ways of learning, teaching, schooling?
I believe the answer is undoubtedly "yes." 

I mean, it is 2009. Ed Tech is kind of old news. 

Some personal anecdotes:
1. FETC.  Swarming with people. The exhibit floor packed with the newest, cool thing. And it is only one conference of many happening all over the world, all the time. 

2. One of the teachers at my school told me that she thought about getting a Master's degree in educational technology and doing a job like mine, but why would she? She said that young teachers entering the profession have no need for someone to help them integrate technology in the classroom. They have always used computers and naturally integrate it in their classrooms. 

3. I applied to ADE. In my own mind, I keep current with what is going on in Ed Tech and education in general and have, for years, been passionate about teaching (which was why I got into the tech stuff in the first place.) I spent a lot of last night viewing the application videos of my competitors and was pretty blown away by some of them. It made me feel two different things: first, it made me go "wow." There are some hugely impressive people out there. When I see what other people are doing and the quality of some of the videos, I feel like I am lagging behind. On the flip side of that thought, I feel like, well, if I'm behind, then the big picture as far as EdTech must be pretty solid. 

And then I look around my school. Papers, desks in rows facing forward to look at the teacher, who is almost always an adult, text books (that cost a fortune. I know, remember I'm a parent at the (private) school, too. We buy all our books.) Oh, to think what technology we could afford if we pooled our textbook money! 
I know, I know, it's not about the tech. But, at the same time, it is about the tech! It's not just the stuff, the gadgets and tools, the coolest flashy fun thing, but, at the same time, it is. How do I explain? I think it's about an attitude. An attitude about teaching, an attitude about learning, an attitude about kids. It's about letting go and trying something new, letting the students have some control. What I tried to convey in my ADE video was that it was a certain attitude about learning and motivation that drove me into the EdTech world in the first place. I always had the passion as an educator. It was only natural that I would get into technology. Because I look to the students to teach me about how to teach them. 
Which brings me back to my little anecdotes. I have to admit I was bothered by the young teacher telling me that my job is unnecessary. Not just because she was calling me old & in the way, but it is the attitude that disturbs me. This attitude, from a teacher," I can't learn from you" really bothers me. She's not the only teacher at my school who has insinuated this to me in one way or another. I find it hard to understand how a teacher could have that closed-minded attitude about learning

My questions-
Is the job of ed tech coordinator becoming obsolete and, if so, how soon? Is that a good thing, indicative of arriving, as opposed to striving? Is the Ed Tech teacher who alleviates the need for an Ed Tech teacher, a sign of a job well done?
I don't think that my school has arrived. We've grown, but it's slow going. I feel stuck, and I don't think it's all my fault. And I'm not sure what to do about it. 

Because technology in education is not the end, it's not THE GOAL. The goal is authentic, student-centered... I can't even finish this sentence because it's all starting to sound like buzzwords to me.  
I've been there for the journey. I've seen education before tech, during tech and now, where tech has reached critical mass. 
There were great teachers doing great things before a computer ever entered a classroom. And having all the latest, greatest gadgets will not change the fundamental values of the teacher. 
How do we get there? How do we let students lead us into the future? How do we put aside our egos and let ourselves learn from anyone? Isn't that the path?


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Andrea

Britt Watwood has just posted a podcast pertinent to what you are writing here, albeit discussion at teriary level.

The key overlaps are collaboration and how teaching and learning morphs as it moves to embrace the Tech in the classroom.

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

simonra said...

I would like to say that while new students have more technology knowledge than some of the more seasoned teachers it does not mean they know how to use it in the classroom for successful teaching. Many teacher prep programs have only one class on technology and that often only covers the basics like how to turn on the computer. Many are still lost about how to use itunes, create podcasts, or are still asking if they can get "web2.0" in their classroom...
in short, teachers will likely always need someone to help integrate technology...someone who has time and energy to find and explain the latest and greatest and how to meld it with academic standards. Think of all the schools that have Smartboards sitting in storage because their teachers have yet to be trained...and that includes younger teachers, as well.

Andrea said...

@simonra One of the big reasons I found myself in educational technology was because I was at a school that had the equipment, but no one to help us use it. I took it upon myself to become that person. I spend way too many hours working to learn new things to share with my colleagues. I guess that was what I was trying to say in my post- I am the leader at my school, but compared to others at other schools, I still have a ton to learn.
But people like the young teacher in my post who think, "I am tech savvy, I know everything" and they don't want to work with me or attend any workshops. I try to get them to teach workshops or come to share what they know or are doing, but they still won't come. And meanwhile, I just don't feel that our school moving forward quickly enough.
I guess my point was that technology isn't just about knowing how to do stuff on the computer. Even if you do know how to use itunes, create podcasts, etc. because you do it all the time, you still might need help integrating it into the classroom or even just logistical help. And I think that the whole idea of moving forward with technology is embracing a more collaborative work ethic.

@Ken, How do you manage to comment on almost every post? You are amazing! Will check out Britt's podcast. Thanks for the link.