If you have children in school or you work in education, you have had this conversation before. Some will say that technology is a major distraction and takes away from learning. Some will tell you that their school is getting iPads next year so the class will be learning more than ever. Some schools are buying technology just for testing and some schools are holding off till the bitter end to make the jump to technology integration. The reality is that if we want to make our students successful in the world they live in rather than the world we lived in, we have to teach them how to work on a day to day basis with technology. However, to successfully do this, a mind shift is in order.
Don't cut them off from the world they live in.
I feel foolish talking about technology this way. It is kind of redundant right? I mean, technology is all around us and to speak of it as if it is some secret is silly, right? Well in many schools, this is still the case. Students are still accessing technology in a small lab and are told to keep their smart phones at home. Following that logic, we should just give teenagers licenses after they pass their written exams. Rather than allowing them time behind the wheel or testing them on how well they actually drive, we could just hand them over the keys after answer multiple choice questions correctly. Wouldn't that be ridiculous? I feel that many teachers and schools are doing this today.
Technology is not a distraction. Distractions are distractions.
To say that technology is a distraction is interesting to me. First of all, when I have access to every resource imaginable and every networking capability known to man at the touch of my fingers, I will be a little distracted when I am forced to read a static textbook that is probably behind the latest research the minute it is printed. Technology can be a distraction. Just like doodling, day dreaming, spit wads, and making signs across the room to your buddy. That is the reason why we have a teacher in the classroom.
Let them use their powers for good.
News flash....students are going to be online and using technology regardless of what we do. They will be engaging in social networking, research topics of interest, and finding entertainment. Because that is what they do. We have to teach them to use their power for good. If we ignore it, they ignore us. We must make them successful in balancing play and work and by giving them the tools to use technology in a productive way.
Teachers have to teach.
Great teachers are great. If you give a great teacher a kazoo, they can teach a unit on the French Revolution. Maybe not, but you get the point. If you give a teacher technology and they are not bound and determined to challenge their students and design engaging lessons to maximize their potential, students will be distracted. A great teacher will take these amazing tools and motivate, articulate, model, and execute a successful learning environment for their students. Technology alone is not transformation. Teachers have to teach and they have to shift the way they teach to truly implement a successful technology environment.
You can't make the shift halfway.
If teachers are going to lecture continuously. If they are going to ask their students to fill out digital worksheets, they might as well not even have technology. We have to think bigger. We have to ask our students to create, collaborate, communicate, and think critically. We have to prepare them for a working environment with deadlines that require creativity and detail. We have to facilitate their exploration and inspire them to ask the big questions.
Technology alone will not make our students successful. But great teaching and technology will make our students unstoppable. Isn't that what we want? I think it is time to stop debating over what we want and start allowing ourselves to implement what the students need. A mind shift is needed. Leading is Teaching.