Over the past several years we’ve seen technology referenced in many ways.
Technology is changing how our brains work
Technology is disruptive
Technology is an amplifier
Technology is just a tool
Technology is transforming education
Technology isn’t making a difference in schools
Depending on the day and the context I could probably argue both sides of these statements. When I look back at my own journey with technology the word that continues to remain is hope. The first 10 years of my teaching career, the changes I witnessed were mostly around curriculum and strategies. We relied on research and “best practice’ and a top down model that would suggest what changes we might make in our classrooms. Mindsets were fairly fixed and rarely did I see teachers getting excited about “new”.
I still recall seeing this video at a conference and saying, “I want my students to do that”
The use of a video camera, editing and publishing tools represented hope and possibility. Since that day technology has continued to be about hope and possibility. I think about all the workshops and courses I’ve taught on blogging, social media, storytelling, Discovery Education, assessment and so on and sometimes wonder how many participants actually include my ideas in their practice. Sometimes that thought can be quite depressing. I realize very few will actually use the specific tool I’ve shared. But I remind myself that’s not the point. What I try to share is that these tools are about possibilities and mindsets. They offer hope that you can do things differently, that students can learn in new ways, that you can learn in new ways. When you have hope you are less likely to settle, your eyes and ears remain open to new ideas and your curiosity is piqued.
There is lots of criticisms to the use of technology and that’s fair and useful. However, when a teacher shows excitement because they’ve found a new flashcard app or creates a scavenger hunt using augmented reality, it’s easy to dismiss and suggest these are low level uses or perpetuating questionable teaching practices. I’d like to be less quick to judge and instead use this excitement to foster further curiosity and hope. I’d like to celebrate with that teacher and when the time is right and the relationship is right, ask “I wonder what else we could do?”
When I think about teaching before access to technology, I didn’t have this hope of possibility. I see teachers today way more engaged, way more excited about teaching than ever before. That’s what technology does. It starts with access, it continues with support and encouragement and it can lead to change. I’ve seen it happen.