Keeping Up

RunningI thought I was finally getting it. After spending the last eighteen months working with Web 2.0 tools, I finally have a good understanding of how technology can change education. I’ve become part of several communities online. I regularly communicate with people all over the world. There are even a few people reading my blog.

Last week, I was catching up on some old podcasts, and listened to the Women of Web 2.0 talking with George Siemens on April 4. About 48 minutes into the conversation, he made this comment:

We can’t make decisions based on these tools the same way we used to. When we started adopting WebCT and learning managment systems — which we should still all repent over — we were thinking 5-10 years. This will help us over the next 5-10 years to move our content online and to deliver our content. Guess what? The world changed overnight, and now we’re seeing personal learning environments as an alternative. We’re not seeing the future in years anymore. We’re seeing the future in months. We are in an environment that makes tenative decisions based on a lot of unknowns.

We still don’t have enough traction in our online learning efforts to say that we’re having an measurable success. Sure, we have a couple people doing some online teaching, and we’re starting to see some excitement about using blogs in collaborative ways, but now every time the goal is within sight, it changes.

I guess this is better than ignoring the changing world. I once worked with someone who was so focused on reaching the goals she had outlined a decade earlier that she couldn’t see that they didn’t matter anymore. At least we’re being a little more proactive than that in our approach. But we’re going to have to get a lot better about reacting to the changing world than we are now. We’re also going to need to start rethinking some of our policies to accommodate this stuff.

3 thoughts on “Keeping Up

  1. John, as a teacher and tech enthusiast I believe your post comes down to staff development. As trite as this may sound, it is the truth. Many organizations and businesses train their personnel on the “latest and greatest” innovations when they happen. In my opinion, this is how it should be for education. Unfortunately, technology is still not viewed as a crucial part of the average teacher’s day. Okay, sure a lot of teachers use a web based grade book, or take attendance and lunch count but what about the true values of education. SEGA tech had a great post last week that shows a short movie titled Paying Attention I emailed this link to all of my teachers here at Highland Drive because I wanted them to see just what we are facing.

    In my opinion, technology should not be a privilege anymore; it should be a mandatory part of our everyday leaning and teaching. Many students leave their school day feeling bored and unchallenged due to “old school” learning with worksheets and knowledge/comprehension based learning. When they get home and play with their technology, suddenly they are demonstrating characteristics resembling the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy with synthesis and evaluative skills. A current book I am reading “Everything Bad Is Really Good For You, by Steven Johnson,, explains this in great detail. Our kids are inadvertently becoming smarter at home and flat lining at school. I suggested this book to our staff to show them how television, the internet, video games and weblogs are not hurting our society, they are actually helping.

    In closing, I am very passionate about where education and technology are heading and how teachers of today need to be trained on how to utilize all of this. It has become a hobby of mine and I can not even begin to catch up or construe all of what is out there. Neither will I try!!! Like you said, once we understand it or better yet, start to implement it- everything changes.

  2. I am so glad you took that piece by George and posted it. I’ve listened to the show 3 times and I still find something new.
    Things are changing and I am glad I am aware and changing with the tides almost.

  3. Mr. Wasil:

    As a non-teacher and a parent, I totally agree with you. However, many (I might almost say most) teachers seem uninterested in learning what now is now OLD technology. Many don’t even know how to use basic spreadsheets or word processors. Heck, I see worksheets come home EVERY WEEK from my kindergarten and second grade kids’ teachers with basic spelling and grammar errors, which is appalling. I wish school districts would MANDATE a certain level of technology proficiency for ALL teachers – including those who have been “in the business” for 25 or more years.

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