Yesterday, I taught one of our Google Drive trainings for school paraprofessionals and I left feeling something that I haven’t felt in a very long time…pure joy and bliss. It was a feeling that I haven’t experienced since I taught my own math class. It wasn’t about the teaching of anything related to Drive. It was purely about knowing that we were empowering these ladies in a training that is often not available to paraprofessionals in many districts which makes zero sense. I am so proud of my district for valuing the growth of our entire community because in addition to these “during the day” trainings, we also provide 24/7 virtual learning access to every person…the kind that can be career changing or even affirming if a person desires it.
Every district should do this…every…single…one.
Later that evening, amidst crazy school canceling storms, I found myself looking through conference proposals and sessions. It bothered me. I won’t lie. I feel like we, this edtech community, are further drowning ourselves into a pile of buzzwords and platforms so much so that I have to wonder if people really understand what transformation, innovation, inquiry and even creativity looks and feels like.
I get that one must learn about tech tools but I have to wonder why we do the exact opposite at these “learning events” that we want to see in schools. Why are we NOT putting the “how to use this app” things online and offering more discussion based sessions on things like writing better questions, learner empowerment, designing student driven lessons, community based projects, teaching beyond the test, reflection, feedback, research and soft skills…you know…the things that technology can
enhance support. (See the update below for a more thorough and fluid expansion)
At some point we’ll figure out that while playing assessment app games are somewhat informing, our kids deserve much more than that when it comes to technology.
Scanning a code for a math problem to solve is “fun” but how is that technology really
enhancing supporting learning? Did the question change because it was scanned versus written in a book or on paper? Don’t even get me started on augmented reality. Yes, some kids love competition, but how is playing Kahoot different than “insert clicker name here”…and don’t you dare say, “because it has bright colors and music!” Just…No.
We need technology, don’t get me wrong but I also know that we have to talk about how we are empowering students to lead in their schools, communities, states and globally! How are we preparing students to be not just “future ready” but Globally Ready?
How are we encouraging creativity and innovation?
How are we giving students more choice and voice? (Not choice of apps or recording their “voice” in an app…Again, NO!)
How are we personalizing learning? (And not the edtech company version of personalization)
How are we creating more equitable solutions? (It’s probably NOT BYOT)
Again…because it’s ALL about this… HOW CAN WE ASK BETTER QUESTIONS THAT LEAD TO MORE QUESTIONS?
Put your app lessons online. We can view them there. Let’s dig deeper and make our rare face to face connections count.
If this is all there is….maybe I need to just stick with EduCon.
Or, maybe this is the conversation that I need to submit to EduCon.
Well… there’s that.
Updated to add: The conversations that have resulted because of this post have been eye opening. The fact that we have to “App-Up the session” in order to have it approved at major conferences is appalling. At some point, we have to question this. David Jakes made a great point to this post in pushing back on the word “enhance” in terms of what technology should do. I agree with him and wanted to make sure that you read this because it is absolutely true and powerful. I am grateful to him for pointing it out. Growth is empowering especially when lived out loud.
“The question in my mind is not about “how technology can enhance.”
That perspective is part of the problem in my mind. Enhancing implies improving what exists, and its simply not bold enough. The mindset of enhancing causes teachers to build scavenger hunts with augmented reality.
Rather, how can technology support the reinvention of education? How does technology support the creation of things never done before? How do the affordances of technology fundamentally create a new condition for learning.”