When I first started in my current job, my role was defined by a one line section of our school vision statement. That vision had been developed in 2002 just before my arrival in 2003. It read:-
We will have a strong learning culture supported by a harassment-free environment and up-to-date technology. Students will be confident and enjoy their learning.
See that little bit in bold – that’s what has been guiding my work in the implementation of ICT here. Now using up-to-date technology is a fairly vague statement and I’ve been able to work on quite a few things under that banner (Problem Based Learning, Interactive Whiteboards, Digital Photography and Editing) but with my new boss taking the reins this year, it’s time to put some detail in that vision and develop something with more definition. We’ve been looking at putting a plan for next year’s ICT budget and rightfully so, we’ve decided that all spending should be driven by a vision as opposed to a wishlist. So the idea is that anything that is budgeted for must tie back to this vision that I will coordinate with the staff.
So I’m starting here – one point that my principal and I agreed on was that vision must be about learning, not just technology. So my wanderings through the edublogosphere are going to have a big bearing on the broad ideas I’d want to present back to my staff. I like the overall thought that we are working towards a 21st Century School and what that might entail. What is essential learning in the 21st Century? How do we use technology to address the curriculum in a more relevant, efficient and engaging way? How do we cater effectively for these students whose life has only known exponential change?
So, before I put my own formative thoughts out here for the world (well, anyone who reads this blog, anyway!), here is my process for gathering some ideas to present back at school. I’ve found Google NoteBook to be a really great for “snipping” key quotes and paragraphs of concise information about the topic at hand, so that will be my tool of choice. So now as I scour my Bloglines, I can capture these gems and then look back at them to create an overall visual representation (probably using CMaps) of what this vision could or should contain. It has to look beyond this coming year – it can be utopian but it has a responsibility to be practical and rooted in reality, the reality of where the school is currently at. So, what have I gathered in my NoteBook since I started thinking about this on Friday afternoon?
We have designed education to promote certainty (i.e. a state of knowing)…we now need to design education to be adaptable (i.e. a process of knowing).
Much has been written lately about technology in the classroom — as to whether it is optional or even relevant. This conversation is understandable, given the time of the year. I ask myself two questions in reaction.
- Can a teacher be a good teacher without using technology? A resounding “YES!”
- Is a teacher who is not using technology doing their job? An emphatic “NO!”
But, of course, it isn’t so simple. “My kids use the pencil sharpener. That’s technology.” It’s why I try not to use that word, and urge others to stop trying to “Integrate technology” It’s too big. It means too many things. It’s why I keep hammer on literacy, that it’s information that has changed (digital, networked, overwhelming, and the more esoteric changes that have come about because of the read/write web).
If we can expand what it means to be literate to reflect the changing information environment, and integrate that, then we might start using technology for what it is, the pencil and paper of our time.
…..at the same time that we teach our students to be responsible consumers of information, we should also be teaching them to be skilled and responsible producers of information. Look at the concept of the long tail and at the thousands of people who have become authors, musicians and composers, and movie makers, many of whom are drawing incoming by marketing their own information productions through the Internet.
In the information age, information will be the raw material that we work with, as we build unique and valuable information products in order to solve problems and accomplish goals.
The great thing is that my blogroll is filled with so many great thinkers that can help fill out this vision. The library’s role in all of this – read Judy O’Connell, Doug Johnson or Chris Harris. What about mobile learning – access Alex Hayes or Leonard Low. Classroom practicalities and implementation – Mark Ahlness, Al Upton or Darren Kuropatwa. Just keep adding to the NoteBook and see where it goes.