Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tech to Ditch

I am a HUGE tech fan.  I'd prefer tech over paper any day.  The more papers I touch the more likely I am to get sick.  Paper takes up valuable space - like filing cabinets - and that space could be used to make the classroom bigger.  I'd prefer blending social media with F2F interactions every day; helping students understand how to use social and thinking skills in both worlds.  Having said that, there is tech that I am just not a fan of.

Being of the age demographic that uses Facebook the most, I do not have a Facebook account.  I did. I had to be really talked into it.  I never enjoyed it.  And I got out of it the first chance I got.  There was something unappealing to me about sharing information about myself with people online that I no longer cared to be connected to in person.  There was something about seeing what other people posted in their quest to connect that made my heart break.  If you are sad and hurting, I'd rather my closest and dearest reach out to those around them.  And honestly, for some that has happened since I exited Facebook.  Please share the pain you are experiencing with me.  In person.  On the phone.  Via text.  I am here to listen, offer support, and possibly advice.  I am not likely to do that on Facebook.

I remember when interactive white boards came on the scene about ten (or so) years ago.  I remember being the last person in my school to have one installed.  I remember my principal apologizing to me for that because of my adoration for the use of technology.  I remember telling her not to apologize because I just didn't want one.  Interactive white boards are expensive chalkboards or dry erase boards that encourage sage on the stage teaching.

Yes, there are ways to create things that encourage small group work, differentiate to meet the needs of learners in small groups.  But I find that most of these are just a tech version of a paper activity.  That is not a higher level use of tech at all.  The bulk use of IWBs is as fancy chalkboard.  Not to mention the fact that it still makes me feel tethered to the front of the room; forcing me into the 18th, 19th and 20th century model of teaching.  I used to be able to control the board with apps or beam my mobile devices onto the IWB so that I could be mobile and interact with my students more.  However, not every district provides the option for this and hence encourages a three century tradition of teaching that is not an ineffective teaching model.

And please don't get me started with all of the things that go wrong with IWBs while using them - like freezing and being able to have an actual uniterrupted lesson that does not require me to huffily stroll over to the desktop.  Give me a projector because there are times I would like to share videos with my students or model how to do something with technology.  Give me he ability to download airplay or other software that allows me to be independent of the front of the room.  If I had that, I wouldn't even need a document camera.  I could project from my mobile device anywhere in the room - how a child is using manipulative to solve a math problem, an example of student writing.  In the moment.  That's what students (and I) need and want.  Flexibility.

Let's ditch the desktop and use that desktop space to set up experiments, stations of inquiry, or host artifacts.  Who owns one of those space hogs anyway?  I need to be able to work from anywhere in the room, not tethered to a desktop.  And it certainly does not need to be connected to a projector.  Especially if I have the option to beam from a mobile device!   I get that there may need to be some standard district info and things that need to be installed, and these can be installed on any laptop.

Can we also lose the drives that are solely connected to the system hardware? Do you have any idea how much easier it is to get mundane tasks (like entering data) completed at home while spending some time with my family or after my child has fallen asleep?  Let's make that happen.  Let's get in the cloud for everything!

The young children we are teaching today; Generation Alpha only know flexibility.  They only know mobile.  As they enter our classrooms we need to model that for them and demonstrate how to seize learning in the moment with technology.  In a way that better matches their world today and that supports their success for the potential world in the 2030s.