Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conferences pt.2

The TEP (Technology Education Partnership) conference on April 7 provided opportunities to see what was new with Smart, learn about Maine's 1:1 initiative, and ways that educators are using social network tools to stay connected. Of particular interest was a session titled "Connect, Collaborate, Create, Challenge – CHANGE" led by Gaby Richard-Harrington. Her perspective was fresh and thoughtful and I enjoyed her talk. One key point she made was that we are waiting too long as educators to teach our students about online tools. Being a"webizen" should start earlier with training in online protocol, civility and safety. By middle school it's too late. She also stressed the need to give back online--when we use an idea or lesson plan and create something of value, we need to share it back. I liked Richard-Harrington's delivery and message so much I attended her following session, "Design Your Professional Learning Community". I am comfortable with PLCs or PLNs but was sure there were things I could learn. Unfortunately the internet connection at this tech conference was unreliable and she couldn't demo live sites--oh, the irony!-but I did gather a handful of new ideas to use with students. We'll be checking out Edmodo and Primary Pad as possible safe online environments for student collaboration. Great stuff!
And the highlight of the day...the U28 tech team presented a session on our year-long tech initiative: Technology Professional Development – the Key to Mobilizing Integration. We had a full room and the reception was positive. Attendees were impressed with the level of administrative support we had for this undertaking and the time we were give. They like several of the ideas we shared-how we incorporate Tech Time into our PD, 28things, and had some new ideas to take back to their schools. This was our first time presenting and it fell in a week with a book fair, MCAS and Art & Technology show, but our nervousness was unfounded. We nailed it :>)

photo: Michael Wakefield

Conferences pt.1

On April 7 I attended the TEP Conference (Technology Education Partnership) in Holyoke as part of the U28 Technology Team with Debbie Lee, Karin Gravina and Christine Morin. Alan November was the keynote speaker. I'd heard of his work and really looked forward to his presentation. There is real value in having your beliefs challenged and shook up. I appreciated November's underlying message about education and the need to do things differently. He spoke of the Flipped model of learning where students traditional classwork and homework are reversed. I agree that putting computers in every classroom and devices in each child's hand does not increase learning in and of itself. How do we teach? How do we effect change? Unfortunately Mr. November's delivery was so arrogant, cocky and out there that it was hard to hear the valid message underneath. He is a leader in the tech ed field, and he put many folks from small schools at this small conference on the defensive, which isn't a position where people can be open to new ideas. Too bad.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We are all Digital Immigrants

Andy Woodworth has a great blog, Agnostic, maybe that often gets right at an idea I've been thinking about. His post today about the term Digital Native was spot on.
We are all immigrants to this new land.
Google has been around for only 13 years, Facebook and Twitter for 5. New tools are developed every. single. day.
Working with children navigate the internet and the research process has made it clear to me that these aren't Digital Natives. They do not instinctively know how to get the information they need or how to best use the plethora of tools at their disposal. They need to be taught, just like the rest of us.
When I hear adults say they don't understand/use/like technology because they are Digital Immigrants I cringe inside. It's not an innate ability. It is not age related. One of my graduate school professors was in her 60s and is the most tech savvy person I know. She learned it. She worked hard to stay current. She puts in the time.
Not being interested in technology is ok. But please, don't blame it on not being born in this generation.