Friday, October 26, 2012

Are We Realizing the Promise of Technology?

Taking a break from the Common Core today to reflect.

Since I participate in a few professional learning communities, I am very fortunate to  have a rather large network. As a result, I see and hear about how teachers and learners around the country are using digital tools.

Last week, I spent several days learning with fellow Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainers from around the U.S.A. We are using protocols like LEAP21 to facilitate conversations with the educators we work with to step them through the process of analyzing their lessons. As a follow up this week, we spent an hour discussing what "collaboration" means and what it looks like in a lesson activity. At the same time, I am reading the book Fierce Conversations and thinking about the fierce conversations that a tool like LEAP21 will spark.

It's these conversations that will transform what is happening in our classrooms.

Today, someone in my network wondered whether we, as Mentors and Instructional Technology Coaches, are failing, despite the fact that we have been doing "this" for some time now. That question sends me back to a few years ago, when I challenged some instructional technology coaches to have fierce conversations with educators who said that they did not need a coach because they had their Masters in Educational Technology. I wanted them to ask these educators, "What do your lessons look like?" They told me that it was too soon to ask that question, because "change like this takes time -- at least 5 years."

Five years have passed since that conversation. The economy is bad.  Many coaches have moved forward into their own classrooms. Some are still working with educators as coaches or as peers. But the conversations are still the same. We are still working through technical problems, figuring out if websites should or should not be blocked, buying cool devices, and then wondering why education has not changed in any significant way.

To realize the promise of technology, we need our kids to collaborate, communicate, create, and use those infamous critical thinking skills. News flash! Not all of those skills require digital tools.

Back to the question. No, I do not believe we are failing. There are pockets of transformation that exist. It is up to us to make the classroom for today meet the needs of our kids who carry the world in their pockets. It is up to us to have those fierce conversations.

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