In her blog, Musings - Just Learning, Sharon Peters commented:
"These are exciting times for educators. Never before have we had so many resources and applications available to us that are often free, easy to access and, most importantly, easy to use."
Her words both inspire and frustrate me.
Through my Google Reader and Twitterverse, I'm well aware of the powerful tools that are available to enhance learning. Clay Burell challenges his students at the 1:1 (one laptop per child) Korean International School to push their creative limits through innovative online projects. Across the world, in Texas, Carolyn Foote is encouraging students to explore new ways of manipulating and creating content with the information they gather. Mr. Mayo has "Exploded the Walls" of his classroom, using wikis, blogs, and videos to create a number of collaborative global projects.
Sometimes it is teachers' reluctance to embrace new technologies that impedes progress. Jen Wagner has been taking a "baby steps" approach as she introduces staff members to the wonders and possibilities of technology-enriched curriculum. New Jersey Tech Teacher, Ann Oro, acquaints new teachers with the "world of Internet collaboration." Her survey of class participants revealed that, although most had home computers with internet connections, the majority of the time they spent online was devoted to shopping or listening to music. Many had either "never heard of" or "heard of but never used" key tools like blogs, wikis, RSS Readers, social bookmarks and microblogging.
Clay and Carolyn, Jen and Ann, operate under the assumption that the tools they promote will be available to staff and students during the school day. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Joyce Valenza expresses frustration with
"arbitrary filtering of sites and tools, and then, specifically the national focus on AYP that moves so many educators away from what we know, and what experts and researchers tell us, good teaching looks like."Pamela Carr cited lack of administrative support as one reason why her proposed technology workshops were rejected by a Faculty Council. She concludes by commenting:
"I can work night and day to educate the staff here about great ways to incorporate technology tools in their curriculum, but until I have like minded administrators, nothing will change."When he requested suggestions for a column aimed at superintendents, Scott McLeod asked "What I should write about? What do you think superintendents need to know about technology?" Suggestions ranged from "update hardware more often" to "provide more and better professional development opportunities" to "model technology use yourself."
We are given a different perspective by the most involved stakeholder: a student. Teen-aged blogger Arthus advocates forming a "change alliance" between students and allies, who might be fellow students or teachers (or community members, parents, or Board of Education members - or even legislators?). Forming alliances, he feels, offers the potential to substantially increase influence and advocate for change. Arthus believes in "how very possible a meaningful and technological education is" and is willing to work to realize his vision.
Arthus was inspired by a conference at the SLA (Science Leadership Academy). There innovative principal Chris Lehmann has created a dynamic learning environment where the "core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are emphasized in all classes."
Quality of education should not depend on location or demographics. All of our children should have access to the tools and curriculum necessary for success. To achieve this, we need leaders on all levels who give evidence of a "science fictional way of thinking." It's not enough to react anymore. It's necessary to seek, to learn, to adjust, to innovate. Arthus deserves his "meaningful and technological education" just as much as the students in Philadelphia or Texas - or Korea - do. How can we make this happen?
“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” -Eric Hoffer
“Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two.” -Octavio Paz
"Bonkers Electroluminescent Clock" by zimpenfish