Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to explore some thinking with colleagues. I immediately realized that I was in over my head in regards to the curriculum-technology connections, hearkening back to stuff I’d learned many years ago and was, in all likelihood, out of date. Still, I felt it necessary to push ahead given the task at hand:
Develop a guide to help campus/classroom planning in the use of technology.
This is an amorphous type of exercise, and one which I have spent little time reflecting on in my new position, and I can only hope that my colleagues will be able to better articulate what needs to be done. Here’s the problem: The guide has to help clarify for campuses in what ways they should spend funding on technology. Since there is little funding, my idea is that the plan will serve as a multi-year aid to spending money on technology purchases.
Since it’s so easy to get caught up in the technology gadgets that engage–whether its an iPad, a Chromebook, iPod Touch, a digital projector, and goodness forbid, an interactive whiteboard–without relevance or connection to curriculum, I wanted a planning guide that would help campuses develop plans and strategies that would fit into their campus improvement plan.
So, no separate technology plan, but rather, a series of strategies that would help campuses move from where they are at now to where they need to be in regards to technology. However, one quickly realizes that technology isn’t the problem. The problem is whether the teachers and campus leadership are able to engage students in ways that will fully capitalize on the technology investment.
For some, though, capitalizing on the investment means putting students in front of drill-n-practice & tutorial software/apps, rather than focusing on creating, connecting, collaborating and critical thinking. It’s a frightening scenario because, in the end, the technology is wasted as is the funding that acquired it.
With nothing but a failing memory, I tried to summarize how we might map or track campuses like points on various continuums of learning. This is where I hit the dead-end, feeling like a bankrupt accountant. It certainly highlights where I need to spend some time. I’m tempted to rely on the Classroom Learning Activity Rubric…does it do the same thing?
The truth is, I suspect that most teachers fall into the far left side of the continuums shown above…simply, they are focused on creating teaching-focused environments rather than learning-focused, teaching skills in isolation, divorced from real life engaging context and problems, centered on whole group instruction through lectures rather than cooperative/collaborative groups.
Even lectures, when done as flipped classroom approaches, offer the opportunity for personalized learning opportunities and feedback. But how do you get teachers to transition from one end of the spectrum to another, and pick up technology while doing that? I can easily see why so many folks give up on technology in classrooms–the task of doing both is difficult to imagine.
The truth is, you probably can’t achieve the right side of the learning continuums without technology…it is a vehicle that can propel you and your class there.
In the next entry, I’d like to take a look at how campuses write their Campus Improvement Plans (CIPs) and reflect technology there. If change is to take place, it should be reflected there….but what examples can one draw upon to get that desired change?
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