Technology and our classrooms- Is this the framework we need to use?

Four Pillars of Technology IntegrationI’ve been saving this bookmark in my computer for quite a while.  Sean Nash from the blog “Nashworld” wrote July about the “Four Pillars of Technology Integration.” and has created a very nice graphic to go along with the post (noting there that he spent too much time on the graphic).  I on the other hand will use it here (to the left) with FULL attribution!  Thanks Sean! Please check out the post!

What I want to write about today though is his initial insights into technological transformation. We worked through some training with our teachers over the past two weeks focusing on what we tried to represent as Challenge Based Learning to our teaching community.  The idea, sprouting from input from Apple Distinguished Educators who are part of our teaching staff, grew into a two day experience for all teachers in the classrooms which will be part of our 1:1 laptop implementation this year.  All in all, the workshops are going well, and have show to have teachers experience what I expected.   Some teachers to be struggled with technology. Some teachers found initial, early and dynamic success. Some teachers rebelled against the idea of the computers taking over their classrooms (and thus their lives). Other embraced the ideas shared and discussed and will be successful right away.  I also continue to believe that success will find us in our classrooms around this program due to our classroom teacher’s drive to use all the tools that are in their reach and the students love of the digital environment that they live in right now.  I believe our school has made some strong, agressive and noteworthy steps to get from what Mr. Nash states as “behind the curve” of technological transformation and instead get out in front of the crowd to distinguish our program from those that have come before us.

What initally connected to me in his post has nothing to do with the specifics of the Four Pillars of Technology integration, but instead it was his statement about the filters one applies as we consider as we retool schools along the lines of technological transformation.  Sean states:

If there is no way to see any of the individual trees in a forest, you are likely going to be forced to start your mission with a whole-forest view to begin with.  This is not a bad thing.

He then outlines two important thoughts:

1) You don’t need a flashlight.  It’s not that dark in there anymore.  Trust that there are others who have proceeded down this path before you, and they have learned many important lessons.  Collaborate.  Learn from their successes and failures.  Do not go it alone.  Resist the temptation to slap a digital device in the hands of each student and call it success.  Have a plan.

2) Rarely do we get to make decisions with the clarity that a little distance provides.  Take your time (but hurry).  Ask yourself: what can we do with these new tools available today that we couldn’t do before?  If we could remake our curriculum any way we wanted, how would we do it?  Think transformation of the way teaching and learning is done in your district, as opposed to integration into it as it exists.

This is just the message I wanted to have the teachers EXPERIENCE in the workshops we have been providing. That’s right… EXPERIENCE.  If we spend time taling at the issue (which we also did a very, very small amount of in the two days together), we miss our own point.  Frankly, I am a strong believer in the common sense approach that says that you can tell people things like this over and over, but as I learned in “Influencer” if you show and demonstrate, rather than tell will garner fuller more expansive results in our efforts.

Thus our results show (after reviewing the progress and the exit survey results) that we did a decent job of addressing the following goals:

  1. To provide teachers with the opportunity to become more aware of the power of the laptop computers the students will have full access to through this program.
  2. To provide teachers an opportunity to engage in a collaborative and collegial learning experience in the same way the students may engage in our classrooms.
  3. To provide the teachers in the 1:1 classrooms time to examine the challenges of classroom management in a technology rich environment and develop thoughtful strategies on how to address these concerns.
  4. To provide teachers an understanding of the logistical processes involved in getting technical help, additional resources and integration support at Shanghai American School.

Did we feel like we needed to give out teachers a flashlight like Sean mentions?  No, we did not.  Some, admittedly stumbled around in the dark a bit, but for the most part we met the needs of the groups (which were large and diverse).  We encouraged teachers to Collaborate.” Some– no most– “Learn(ed) from their successes and failures. Teachers in our school learned that they “Do not (have to)go it alone”. No, we did not slap a digital device in the hands of each student and call it success.”

Thanks Sean for the inspirational post that helped my reflections. I will reflect more on the remaining part of the post later.

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One Response to Technology and our classrooms- Is this the framework we need to use?

  1. Sean Nash says:

    Andrew,

    There are times where blogging feels like a pretty solo endeavor… and then there are times like this when you really get the feeling (or rather proof) that your words really do make a difference in the lives of others. I began blogging initially as a “proof of concept” exercise- knowing that the only way to evaluate the worth of something is to immerse yourself in it and even swim around a good bit.

    That exercise quickly turned into a power tool for my personal reflection. In fact, a quote I gleaned from a recent Shelley Blake-Plock post: “…to blog is to teach yourself what you think.” …is one that made this fact concretely verbal for me. So perfectly true.

    Then at some point enough folks begin to read and then reply, that you realize you can also affect change in others in some small way. After those first few posts, I think I then started expecting everything that was really relevant in my world to be really relevant in the wider world. Of course that just isn’t always the case. Sometimes even my most well-crafted pieces attract less attention than some other “lighter” things.

    All that being said… this post received a reasonable amount of feedback. In fact, a team consisting of my Principal, our Director of Secondary Ed and I just presented a blown-up version of this post at a state level conference and have submitted as well for ISTE 2010. However, your thoughtful response and reflection does more than any of that toward showing me that sharing my thought and experience is a valuable thing.

    So thanks for taking these ideas apart for me on your blog… and with your people. I appreciate your efforts and feedback from afar.

    Thanks much,

    Sean

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