Technology for Today and Tomorrow

If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow. -John Dewey

new technologyMy husband decided he needed an iPad for work.  This decision seems fairly innocuous considering the prevalence of this tool in the modern workplace.  What makes this decision remarkable to me, is that he is a reluctant technology adopter.  He doesn’t have an ATM card, he only recently got a smart phone and he isn’t overly interested in trying new technological things.  He has never used an Apple product nor has he used any touch screen device.  And he is just fine with that.  He leaves those things to me.  I was thrilled with his decision and we immediately went to the Apple store and bought him an iPad.

After it was all set up, I was ready to spend the afternoon with him showing him all of the amazing things the iPad can do.  He puttered with it for about 15 minutes and said he was done for the day.  WHAT?  We barely go past turning it on and off, navigating a few apps and he was done.  Baby steps.

Unlike our students, many adults tread cautiously into the world of technology.  My 5 year old kindergarten students watch me demonstrate (just once) a complex set of instructions requiring multiple apps to complete an assignment and they are on it.  Solo.  To my tiny digital natives, I am speaking their language.  To many digital immigrants, I may as well be orbiting Jupiter and speaking Juptonion.

Could this be part of the reluctance of many adults who are in charge of making technology decisions for schools?  A friend of mine posits that perhaps the simplicity is confusing.  Unless we see the value of technology in our own daily lives, it is difficult to find value in it for our students.  “Why do we need to spend all of that money on iPads?”  We have to move beyond being just fine with the way things were.   We speak about 21st century skills and 21st century classrooms as if they are something out of the Jetsons.  We are 13 years into the 21st century people.  If not now, when will be the right time?

By establishing our classrooms as a global learning communities, students and teachers learn together from each other and from a world of other learners.  Teachers no longer need to have all of the answers.  This revelation frees us up and takes the pressure off…we can explore and learn from our students.  I learn from my kindergarten students almost daily. We don’t need to employ the “no pain, no gain” axiom in teaching and learning.

Here is a video compiled by a colleague showcasing some great things at my school…no adults were harmed in the creation of this video…. 🙂

Today, we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!

And a child shall lead them…

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”  ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

How many of you have a VCR that is still flashing 12:00?  If so, you need an 8 year old to program it. Or better yet, throw it out. I no longer have a VCR and was thrilled to move into the world of DVR.   Many of my students would be quick to ask what a VCR is. Oh the times, they are a changin’.  Take a look at this image depicting what happens on the internet in one minute.

As our students use iPads in the classroom daily, they are learning ways to manipulate this instructional tool.  They quickly share the knowledge with others and they seldom have to help the same person twice.  Kids get it. Adults, not as quickly. A colleague of mine came into my classroom to ask me a question about a particular app.  Immediately after she asked me, a nearby student jumped up and said, “I can show you.  Look…” The 5 year old quickly went through the steps and the teacher, trying to follow along, said, “Like this?”  and the child, slightly impatient, said, “No, like THIS.” Our students are digital natives.  They were born digital.  They are growing up in a life immersed in digital technologies.

The challenge is teaching them.  Because our students think and process information differently in this digital age, our teaching must change. The digital immigrants teaching these digital natives must think differently.  How many of us still print out email or print out a document to “proof read”?  With the iPads, we’ve been able to go almost paperless.  I say almost because we haven’t worked out some barriers yet.

I recently received a new student.  He had never used an iPad.  I didn’t bother showing him how to use it.  His peers took over and he was proficient by the end of the school day.  I used to demonstrate how to use new apps on the Smart Board.  Going step-by-oh-so-painful-step for my digital natives.  I thought they needed that.  They were politely restrained and gave me that condescending smile of “Yeah, yeah…blah blah blah.  Get on with it so we can do this ourselves.” I no longer torture them.  The speed in which they process new information is astounding and I had to adapt.  I love technology and think of myself as an early adopter…but even I catch myself about to print out an agenda for a meeting from time to time.  Oh Mrs. Meeuwse, that was sooo 47 seconds ago.  Old habits die hard.

With the apps we use in class, the seamless integration of technology with learning, and adaptive and flexible teaching techniques, we can bridge that digital divide.  My students would cheer, but they are blogging about the rainforest and can’t be disturbed. Cue the Rent a Crowd App in the app store.  It will clap and cheer for them for only .99.

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