Our Ed Tech committee meets again today to further discuss a new classroom model for technology. We’ve spent the past month talking with and surveying staff members about how they use technology now, what they think they might need in the future, and what they see as the most effective use of the technology we currently have. Today, we present those findings.
From where I sit, this is going to be a longer process than most on the committee think. For one thing, I think we may be asking the wrong questions at this point. When I had my 20 minutes with the English Dept., and during my personal talks with teachers, I mostly got blank stares when I asked “What do you think you are going to need? What do you want to be able to do?” The sense I got was most teachers don’t know how to answer that question, because most don’t know what they COULD do. They don’t know what’s out there. How are they supposed to tell us how technology might improve their teaching if they don’t understand or know the potentials of the technology?
The process I’ve been thinking about is this: First, let’s do some research into what technologies are available at this point. What are other schools doing? Where does the technology seem to be headed? What are the costs of those technologies? Are they feasible here? Second, think about the ways we see technology helping us become better at what we do? Again, how are other schools answering that question? What are our weaknesses? What does the current research show? Third, let’s see create a menu of possiblities, give some basic information about what is available and what can be done with it, and let people think and talk about what might work best in their own practice. This would at least help people make informed decisions about the “model” classroom.” Fourth, talk about design and implementation.
I just don’t think asking teachers what they do now and what they’d like to do in the future is the logical approach. What other informed decisions do we make in our lives without first researching and understanding what’s out there? We don’t decide simply based on what we do and know now. That’s what it feels like we are aksing teachers to do.
The complexity of this question is enormous. Teachers have differing comfort levels with technology to begin with. Some courses lend themselves to technology and innovation more than others. Some rooms are more appropriate than others. Teachers need training. We need to clarify a budget. We are all pressed for time…and on and on. But it all has to start with a clearer picture of what the possibilities are.