What is teaching? What is learning? To teach something is to share relevant knowledge with others. To learn something is to understand, process and connect to the knowledge being shared. How can technology fit into this equation? Technology can accelerate learning by providing resources and opportunities that are not available or accessible, as well as, facilitate connections one could never think of or did think of, but did not have the resources to do so.
Technology can provide many opportunities to change how we learn in schools by allowing teachers to network best practices, trainings and stepping out beyond our classroom and school for ideas, inspiration, reflection and confirmation. I like to compare teaching and learning to playing a sport. The only way to become a better athlete is to practice with athletes that are better than you. Maybe the coaches and or athletes in your district can only offer so much skill and competition that you have to venture outside your district or sometimes the state to find a more skilled coach or athletes to train with. Or even as a coach, you only know what you know. You get better by attending trainings and working with other experienced coaches to learn new ideas, perspectives and strategies, but with technology the skills and competition can come to you. That is how we should look at how technology can change our learning in schools. It can provide opportunities and deeper learning beyond the classroom in the classroom or at least it can start there. As mentioned in How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning, our culture of teaching and learning needs to shift from teacher centered to an intense student centered focus via face-to-face, blended or virtual environments. This can be done through digital learning. Although, this change can’t occur without technology and with shrinking budgets this is a huge challenge.
In addition to lack of school funds and low income families are our teachers that are not technologically trained. It’s extremely unfortunate that this shift toward technology and 21st century is expected to occur, yet sufficient training and time is not afforded to all teachers. I’ve seen teachers break down just trying to figure out how to upload their SLO, I’ve seen teachers that do not know how to “share” their documents in google, I’ve seen teachers that do not know that multiple people can edit a document at the same time! In order to make these learning shifts possible for our students our teachers need to be adequately trained. I learned on my own by simply fiddling around. Other teachers are not as technologically comfortable to do so. Our awesome instructor, Dr. Katie Martin gave a talk at the Innovator’s Mindset on Teachers Create What They Experience and said that, “isolation is a choice”. Although I agree with that, like our students we need to make time to teach teachers how they learn.
What these resources and technology have allowed me to do is to reflect on my own life experiences and to identify life lessons I did not realize were there. It’s allowed me to make connections. Like Dave Burgess says in #IMMOOC Event 1, its the ability to take our life and career experiences outside of education and bring it into the classroom. He also mentions, “get over yourself”, to share your knowledge because it is your responsibility to do so and it can inspires others. I sometimes feel goofy about my enthusiasm in the classroom, but if I model to my students the love I have for teaching and working with them, then that could inspire them to find something that makes them feel that way too. By implementing technology I can provide more opportunities for students to make connections that I could not anticipate. Why try to create connections for students, when they can explore to make their own.