My latest trip out of the state was interesting. My husband and I flew to San Antonio to take part in the National Association of Secondary School Principals conference. I had a great time networking with administrators from different states. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with administrators from Michigan and getting to discuss some more local issues in a removed environment. These experiences alone made the conference worthwhile.
But Will Richardson’s latest post, Urgent: 21st Century Skills for Educators (and others) First, brought me back to a thought I had while I was amidst the conference and presenters. There was little technology present, appropriate modeling of tech networking, or even discussion regarding its implications for learning.
As Will states,
And worse, it was painfully obvious by their death by PowerPoint presentation styles that their own adoption of technology as a communication tool not to mention a networked learning tool left a great deal to be desired. The governors, the state superintendents, the consultants…from none of them did I get the sense that they could give a great response to a request to model their uses of technology to teach and learn effectively, especially in the context of networks.
I, too, had this overwhelming sense of “what is education to do if our leaders don’t know the basics?” I watched day-in and day-out as presenters used overhead machines, read off powerpoints, and spoke of email as if it was still the fastest (and latest and greatest) tool for communication.
No, Will, you are not a snob. There are many of us who are asking ourselves the same questions on frequent basis.
I also just experienced a session at Macul where a gentleman gave a presentation on Web2.0 technologies. I had heard of all of them before, but instead of walking out, I sat through it. Now, it was obvious that his “inclusion” of technology into the classroom had been praised by his administration. He had received accolades for his efforts. But I sat through the presentation on edge, slightly – no truly – uncomfortable. Uncomfortable for two reasons: the first being that there was an attentive audience, the second was because all of this demonstrations and tech tools facilitated only recall. He only reached Bloom’s basic level of taxonomy, knowledge, with all of this technology. He was awarded for simply getting tech into the classroom… not for the level of critical thinking he was (or wasn’t) providing the kids.
Now, maybe I am the snob. But technology for the sake of technology doesn’t create 21st Century Learning Skills. An electronic flash card is still a flash card. If his intent was to show different activities for different levels of learning, he greatly missed the target.
Everyday I go to work, I am so grateful my district leaders have vision and an open office to discuss pedagogy (including technology integration) daily. But I worry about the whole of the US educational system. I worry about the kind of citizens we are creating. Sheltering them too much, not teaching them appropriate skills, and using the technology just to say we did…. the horizon at times looks so far away.
The system is so hard to change. What will it take?
Sigh. I see this time and time again, so you’re not alone. A big part of my job is trying to get teachers and future teachers to thnk about using technology for meaningful learning; not using technology just for the sake of using it. But I am happy to see a fellow educator out in schools who “gets it!”