Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thinking Past the Mouse and Outside the Box

In reading other's blogs, I frequently relate to their "rants" or expressions of frustration over what others are doing, or not doing in the world of technology. I didn't think I would start to "rant" after having my own blog for only a few weeks, but now that I see that it can become common on other educators' blogs to vent a little when something is bugging them, I will get a few things off of my chest...

My first "rant" was left as a comment after I read Dean Shareski's post Control is a Worthless Pursuit about limiting the use of Facebook by educators by a Wisconsin school district. The district seems to think that they can avoid legal problems by controlling their teachers in cyberspace. I think that they will end up with more legal problems in the long run. In response to Shareski's post, I left this comment:

"This sounds like another case of a school district not considering their teachers to be professionals. I think it is important to allow educators to connect with their students on whatever level they feel is professionally appropriate. I personally won’t accept friend requests from my students on Facebook because I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I will, however, interact with them by exchanging emails, commenting on their blogs, visiting with them after school in my classroom, by coaching a team or by facilitating a club. The web has added another level to connect with others. It should be up to the teacher to be professional in their contact with students and decide what is appropriate and necessary to foster the relationship required to have that student learn and grow as a person."

My second "rant" is on here after reading Clarence Fisher's post I'm Done with EdTech. After reading his post, I can't help but agree with his point that we need to think past the "mouse" or outside the "box" as educators. I'm not sure what word we need to use to replace the term "EdTech" but after watching the video on Fisher's post about "Shiftables" from TED, I'd like to think that the power of technology in education is the collaboration that takes place from networking and talking to others using the technology, whether that takes place online or in a classroom. Here's the video:

Yes, it would be fun to play with these cubes all day and I can see many applications to using them in my own teaching. But what takes place after the exploration or playing phase with these cubes or any kind of technology for that matter? I like to think that the discussion and analysis of what took place during the exploration phase is where the real learning takes place. It is the role of the educator to facilitate this discussion and learning.

After these two "rants", I leave you with this, my third and final "rant" for the weekend about those who are not ready to change the way they teach. We need to grow as educators and change the way we teach or the 21st century learner will leave us in the dust. Yes, technology can be scary and it takes time and work to reinvent the way we teach. But, if we as educators don't make the effort to change the way we do things in our classrooms and make ourselves relevant to educating the 21st century learner, the real learning will take place outside of our buildings and we as educators will become irrelevant as a 21st century profession. Taking the opportunity to explore new technology and the ability to integrate it into our teaching enables us to become collaborators and mentors. We need to be master learners and be willing to learn with our students in the ever evolving 21st century.