Pictures by Linc Jackosn
In an interesting blog, Jeff Utecht, commented on being tired of hearing of the term “Technology Integration.” Jeff’s complaint is right to the point and the term itself doesn’t really due justice to the goal of helping classroom teachers use the technology to help them with their classroom objectives. While the term sounds simple enough, the situation today in 2011, almost 2012, has morphed, making the term technology integration a misnomer in some ways and yet ubiquitous in much of the K-12 education arena. Jeff’s comments refer to the need for a much more grounded use of technology with seamless infusion and application by classroom teachers. It is interesting that some technology activists in education are wanting every single class to be completely “flipped” insisting that the goal is to have every class aimed at being student driven, cooperatively focused, and flat classroom oriented. This is a admirable goal. It the big picture, however, a better description of the ideal educational setting is to say that not every lesson needs to be a flipped classroom but that technolgoy is so accessible that the inclusion of technology is completely flexible and teachers can incorporate tools as needed. As we know, not only is the actual hardware and related technology that is a big challenge , but so much of the succes story really revolves around the support people and the professional training of classroom teachers. Often it is better to describe the support people as “librarians” with specific training in the specific hardware available and knowing about many of the exciting possibilites. ISTE and NETS provide some goals and suggestions but many teachers need more support as how this should look when it is put into practice. In the perfect situation the classroom teachers will come to each year with a really strong array of skills that will encourage as many “authentic” learning opportunities as possible.
What is a good technology analogy? If a classroom had the opportunity to teach using a garden right outside their classroom and they could grow food all year round, a well trained elementary teacher should be able to make that garden an integral part of every aspect of the curriculum. Science, Poetry, Music, Art, Math, and Writing, all become tightly woven into the daily lessons that weave in different aspects of the learning opportunity that lies just outside their door. There are an endless list of great “hands on” discoveries and discussions that could come alive for the students. Again, training and resources are absolutely imperative to the successful reaching of the subject area benchmarks.
In the dream scenario, the garden would be used to help teachers gain the objectives that they are aiming towards in creating their unit plans and lesson plans. Teachers don’t need to find the aspect of the garden that is inspirational per se, rather, they use any parts of the garden and its representations that make the moment of teaching a better one. Yes, truly great lessons are impressive, but it is more about the process of using some tool, in this case a garden, that is relevant. Some blogs have referred to imbedding technology. Pardon the pun, but a garden should be “embedded” in all aspects of a child’s learning as long as it makes the learning experience better than it would have been without it.
The garden analogy is a little bit of a stretch because technology has so many implications, but on the other hand, if every classroom in the world had it’s own little graden and truly embraced it as a vehicle for learning, it could make a monumental the difference in the world’s future. Just like technology.