Sunday, February 01, 2009

Technology isn't something special-it just IS

So I have been thinking a lot about the conversation on Will Richardson's reflection of educon. The post started out as a reflection of a powerful learning culture but quickly turned into a conversation (stemmed mostly by Gary Stager) surrounding the idea of whether or not technology is something that should be referred to separately to the curriculum. In his comments to Will's post, Gary asks...

What was the last time you questioned the investment in Algebra II or D.A.R.E. or football or health class?

As someone who was there at the beginning of laptops in education, I implore you and your colleagues to stop referring to 1:1 program. What is the program? Does your school have a desk program or a bus program or an annoying public address system program?

Back in October of 2007, Karl Fisch wrote a post called Digital Native Post of the Day. Where he described his daughter's introduction to Webkinz and use during a family vacation...Fisch wrote..She doesn’t think it’s fantastic or outrageous, cool or amazing – it just is. She just thinks this is the way the world is – she can connect pretty much effortlessly to others across space and time - and she’s right. We are in the process of bringing an au pair to come live with us from South Africa--We have been able to instantaneously share pictures and children have the expectation that they can get to know her via skype before she even arrives. Like Gary I too wonder why we continue to treat technology as something that we have to "teach" the kids so when I watch things like it becomes glaringly apparent--Techonology isn't something just IS! When is the world going to start treating it that way and start creating more powerful cultures? Isn't THAT what we are all really talking about anyway?

BTW...when I watched this video with my kids
my 6 year old's response...that's cool...
my 8 year old's response...Emma could do that...
my 2 year old's response..."I play you pone?" ..."Mommy, where you ipod?"


  1. Aly Tapp12:07 PM

    Nice post, and of course, I totally agree. Don't you think the hold-up is that the ones who make the decisions to purchase and provide technology are not themselves aware that "it just IS?" Buses and public address systems -- these are easy to understand. But we still have administrators who are themselves afraid of and/or distrustful of the connectivity that just IS. I'm growing increasingly frustrated by the right conversations happening with the wrong audience. The genius is the one who can get school boards and administrators everywhere to stop allowing technology to fall into its own category. I do believe that in time we will get there, but wow, my patience runs thin some days. I was intrigued by Scott McLeod's K12Online presentation detailing how traditional schooling is being and will continue to be challenged by disruptive technologies ( I shared it with some administrators and colleagues. I got no response from almost everyone. One colleague who did respond told me he was extremely skeptical. He maintained that face-to-face was best, and that all this "texting and IMing and facebooking was eroding quality human connection." He was utterly convinced of his own rightness, although he himself has not worked with any of the tools he was judging. How do we get him, and others like him, to see that technology is not an (unnecessary) add-on?

  2. Yes yes yes... people like US see this and understand this, but as Aly stated, its the people who make the decisions that need to read and hear these conversations. And, the BIG and, they have to understand and agree! Although educon was an awesome experience for me and for the educators like me who were there, I came home feeling deflated because the people who needed to be there weren't there. In speaking to my husband about this - that the decision-makers weren't there to join in the conversations and see where education must evolve - he said, "Well, you are the ones who WILL be making the decisions in a few years.. that's when things will get done." But, what about now? If the people in charge who make the decisions are so much living in the past and so convinced of their "rightness" - are we going to change things NOW? Or, do we simply wait until the fuddy duddies retire and we take over?? :)

  3. I have 3 kids ...IN SCHOOLS... I don't have TIME to wait while the smartboards collect dust and the only thing they use computers for is PSSA prep and remediation. It is one of the primary reasons however that I am pursuing an administrative certification. It is a paradigm shift however. We need to see learning as more constructivist...we can construct with pencil, paper, legos, or musical well as laptops, it is the shift in thinking more that the laptops that is what is needed no? It is the building of a learning community...a learning environment and doing it systemically that is what makes schools like SLA work. Am I way off here?

  4. Technology means nothing unless the teachng methods and assessment change and it is so maddening. My daughter is a Junior and my son a Freshman. Much of what they do is a waste of time and it is sad. For a district that is going one to one, they still do not see what really needs to change. I am thinking about getting my doctorate instead of a certification.

  5. Technology is a tool, not a paradigm shift. It is not necessary to lump computer use with better teaching methods. You don't need technology to change your teaching method, just as you don't need pencils and paper.

    You are absolutely right about technology becoming ubiquitous. Unfortunately, it is not quite there yet. Most of my students don't have computers at home. Most don't have cell phones either. I have to teach them how to use technology, but only as a means to an end, not the end iteself.

  6. Wow! This is so true. Why are we calling it something separate? I get tired of hearing that technology initiatives aren't possible because of budget cuts. What about learning initiatives? Can we afford to pass up learning in education?

    Love the video. Can't wait to show it to my little ones and see what they think. Oh, better hide my ipod first. :)