I applaud educators today for pushing to improve the reputation of teachers when it comes to technology. I no longer picture a teacher as purely a red pen, loose paper, dusty book person. I picture educators as Macbook toting, Smartboard using folks planning their classes on an iPad.
So, here's the trouble. When your average person pictures a school, they do not imagine a well-designed modern layout with comfortable furniture and quiet voices. They do not see subdued indirect lighting. They do not envision students on the newest technology available. They do not imagine students truly engaged.
They hear the clicks and squeaks of shoes in long echo filled hallways, the grinding of pencils being sharpened and outdated textbooks hitting the desks. In the mind, the school is exactly as it has always been. Loud, sterile and behind-the-times. They picture a lot of horseplay and talking back.
Change takes time and that's why I have so much respect for the educators in my PLN (my Personal Learning Network). I see first-hand what technology and communication can do to improve learning. The development of the educators that have embraced sites like twitter and express themselves with blogs such as this one is mind-boggling. The desire to integrate apps and devices and create an environment where collaborative learning replaces memorization.
There is no doubt in my mind that our current educators can bring a new level of awareness and reform education. Here's proof that our educators are on the cutting edge:
2010 Edublog Award Winners
If you take a look at some of the winners listed here, you'll get the idea that blogging, social media, technology and new strategies are being widely distributed TODAY.
And the kids are ready for it! Right now, our toddlers are fully capable of operating computers and apps of all types.
My son just turned 4 years old and can surf YouTube, find age appropriate Netflix content to watch without help, take photos and videos and play them back and he can easily operate a number of educational apps without supervision. I know that sounds like he must be online all the time but it's not that he's always using technology. He's a regular boy and plays and we do a lot of fun things together - He's just pretty darn good at it now that the devices are as intuitive as they are today.
This phenomenon is not just happening to just a few kids. Take a look at this:
The technology gap between home and school could just as easily widen if school budgets don't allow for integrating technology into the classroom creating a dynamic where students don't relate to school as well. Although I'm no expert here, what I do know is that children like to be challenged. Not being up-to-date is just not all that interesting.
This is why I respect schools that pay attention to design, lighting, comfort, computers & devices, video, sound reinforcement and simplicity. I also applaud educators that push the boundaries discovering new and exciting ways to engage students and inspire others.
In the end, changing schools is going to be a long haul but I believe it can be done.
People will have to see for themselves this 'new school' is dedicated to the integration of technology and new principles of learning in order to believe it. It will have to shatter the expectation that the school was created from the 'hand-me-downs' of the business sector and let it be known that the educators actually know how to use the technology.
We can get there and it will happen when thousands upon thousands of little actions improve the way schools work. I see these improvements daily from the educators in my PLN and I am impressed. It's perhaps not yet a movement, but it is something powerful.
I, for one, look forward to following these small innovations all along the way. Things will soon look very different as a result.
Jay Moneta is the Vice President of Believe Kids Fundraising and blogs here at BelieveJay.Blogspot.com as well as TheFundraisingPln.com
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Here's the article that inspired this post: Tightrope Teaching