So what changed?
His post made me realize it’s not about the devices we use – it’s about the pedagogy and how we use what we have. It’s kind of like saying that if you just had the right pots and pans you could cook like Julia Child or Jacques Pepin. We know that’s ridiculous but it’s often the way we look at education. We see someone doing amazing things and we swoop in looking for the secret ingredient that we can scale up to make every teacher amazing. I found some irony in a quote by Julia Child:
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
It seems she’s could be speaking about education.
As I read Mr. Arnold’s post, I realized we share much common ground in our uses of technology. We both agree about the importance of import/export, Google Drive, Dropbox, Edmodo, Gforms, Gaggle, etc. There are limitations and frustrations with laptops, but the same is true for tablets. Its seems analogous to choosing between copper, stainless, cast iron, or aluminum cookware. They all have pros and cons. The real difference is in the skills of the cook using them.
That is the essence of my point. It’s not about the tool – it’s about strong pedagogy and a passion to teach kids. I take the technology I have and create lessons that I hope are engaging. I find ways to work around the limitations of my resources and maximize the strengths. I use pencils and a lab notebook at times. We use personal whiteboards at times. We use Wallwisher for exit slips; sometimes we use Post-its or note cards. I choose from my available resources the tool I think will be most effective for helping students create understanding.
There has been much written about using tablets as a replacement for textbooks. I agree with most of the goals that I have read. Anything is better than a back-busting load of textbooks for kids to haul around. At the same time, the truth is I never really use a textbook. FlexBooks from CK-12.org are as close as I get to a textbook (they're wonderful by the way).
In a current periodical I read about a New Hampshire school implementing a 1:1 initiative with iPads. The article lists all of the benefits of the iPad; among them are:
- Allows the use of a parent portal for accessing grades
- Cloud based student management system
- Being able to work remotely
- Student access to e-books, audio and visual content
- Students can create video narratives
- Students can self-assess
- Students can use the iPad as a student response system
- Students can access online assessments
A quote from the article states, “The best part of implementing iPads is the students will now have an engaging tool to direct their learning.”
I would argue that I can use laptops to accomplish any of the items listed above. And at the end of the day, that’s the point. The technology we have is not the greatest concern. The concern is how we use what we have to engage students.
I am comfortable with my laptops; I know how to use them effectively, but if I left my current district and went to a new district with iPads I would not have any concerns. One thing I have learned is that a teacher needs to be fearless in the use of technology. You should dream big and then move forward and make things happen.
Here is a final quote by Julia Child:
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
Couldn’t the quote just as easily read, “This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to teach – try new technology, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”?
Debate and open discussion about technology is a good thing. Let’s just remember to stay focused on the students and our pedagogy. If we do that it may not matter what device we use.