There have been a spate of posts of late that talk about the role of technology in general and Web 2.0 technologies specifically in the classroom and also about the larger question of the acceptance of technology in general as a teaching and learning tool. Not surprising, is it, that these threads would pop up as school begins, at least here in the Western World.
Jeff Utecht started by writing about “Transition Techies” and lamenting the fact that technology is still seen as an option to most educators, not a requirement.
For most schools technology integration is optional. So I am supporting an optional program. I know it’s been said before but: As long as teachers have the option to integrate technology, some will opt not to. Since computers first started showing up in schools it was optional. Some teachers used the computer labs others didn’t.
I find myself wondering if these are, indeed, transition technologies in the sense that at the end of the day, blogs and wikis and the like come closer to pen and paper technologies than most of what has come before and that because of that, they may finally be the tools that bring us to the point where we stop talking about technology and start talking about practice. Obviously, it will take ubiquitous access for that to truly occur. But in my own case, this is not something that I can separate from the way I live and work. And I think that’s what we have to see happening in schools. The list of reasons why it hasn’t already is long and well documented, and Jeff’s post offers much to think about.
Later, Miguel Ghulin takes it a step further by writing that technology in schools isn’t just optional, it’s irrelevant.
Optional technology use? We are supporting a dream, a vision that was popularized by vendors, pundits, and high priced keynote speakers. We’re still in search of the high tech, high touch. The reality? The reality is that schools don’t see technology as optional. Rather, it is irrelevant…whether the laminating machine works is a more relevant concern. Maybe that’s splitting hairs, but I see irrelevant as much worse than optional. Optional implies that technology might be used if the teacher chooses, that it has some worth. Irrelevant says that there is no worth, whether you choose to use it or not.
I agree that there is a de facto irrelevance (whether we say we see the need for technology or not) if the people in leadership positions aren’t walking the walk and using technology as a part of their practice. I think of Tim Lauer and Tim Tyson who lead by example, and how rare that is when it comes to technology in schools. But is that only going to be solved when new, younger, technology facile leaders emerge?
Finally, Chris Sessums weighs in with some thoughts on the state of Read/Write Web tools in our classrooms:
Integrating the Internet and social software into the classroom is a complex and multifaceted process. As we stand today, there is very little research regarding which technology is most appropriate and effective for particular tasks. In my mind, this is a good thing. This is where creativity steps in – and this is what education is all about (i.e., trying out ideas, experimenting with software, making mistakes, reinventing, etc.). More importantly, effective and appropriate use involves the competent and committed involvement of people. To this end, Internet search engines and social software such as weblogs, wikis, and social bookmarking sites provide a rich and resourceful environment for educators and learners of all ages.
If, of course, they are willing to take the time to make them their own.
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