This assignment/reflection has me stumped. Instead of the 411, I feel like I need to be dialling 911 and screaming for help! I have been racking my brain as to why this is so – the other blog posts have rolled out somewhat painlessly and “authentically embedding technology” is my new job as Learning Technology teacher, so what’s the hang up? Why do I feel like this reflection and I are stubbornly butting heads?
The more I think about it, all that comes to mind is the introduction to David Foster Wallace’s address to the graduating class of Kenyon College:
As Wallace says, “The most obvious realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and to talk about.” That is how I feel a lot of the time about tech integration.
As a classroom teacher, I used technology a lot. I would plan out my lessons by thinking ahead to how I would share student learning with my parents: What would my blog post say? Why did we do this? What was our purpose? Thinking this way helped me focus my teaching. Posts were partially written before a lesson started (and sometimes deleted before an entirely new lesson began!). At any given time you would find students using technology in my class: making a video reflection, searching websites, sharing their thoughts through blogs, collaborating on google docs, reflecting and sharing via Socrative or Padlet, making stop-motion movies, interviewing people via Skype, creating timelines, adding books to their bookshelves… This was my “water”.
I liked trying new things and I wasn’t scared that the technology aspect wouldn’t work (don’t confuse this with me not being irritated when the technology aspect didn’t work – because sometimes it just isn’t going to!). It was exciting and engaging and my kids were learning about our unit but also a bunch of skills that could be applied to many things beyond that one lesson.
Now remove me from my fourth or fifth grade classroom and put me in the role of Learning Technologies teacher. My job description reads:
No problem, right? Ahh….right. Except what I am finding is that we all inherently bring bias to the classroom to some extent. And not all teachers are starting from the same point of willingness, ability, knowledge, or overall level of comfort with the integration of technology. I would even go so far to say that some teachers are yet to leap from the sidelines into the following cycle of collaboration:
It is not as if the standards are not clear. The standards for coaches are particularly interesting (and challenging!) for those of us in this role within our schools and give me a lot to think about as I tackle my job.
So again, what exactly is my hangup with the idea of authentically embedding technology into teaching? Ultimately I think it is the ‘moving target’ nature of technology integration. How do we authentically embed technology in our curriculum when the technology itself, is constantly evolving?
Essentially, just try stuff. And don’t be afraid of it not working.
Ultimately, I just know that I need to keep learning, keep trying new things, keep communicating with my colleagues, and keep open to all the possibilities that abound when technology is utilised in the classroom. This in itself is not a particularly satisfying conclusion for me. I really do (secretly?) want a step-by-step guide to authentically embedding technology – some kind of machine where you drop in your units of work and out spits an integrated technology plan.
What I do know for sure is that it should not be the device doing the driving of the integration but the collective brains of my colleagues and my PLN and the willingness to collaborate, research, try, and commit to the process in order to unleash the possibilities.
Note: I tried finding the original source of this picture on Flickr but had no luck. I did an Image Search and got loads of hits but none with anything other than the attribution on the side of the picture.