Monday, February 17, 2014

What constitutes technology?

At a recent discussion, my team was challenged with the task of redesigning a next generation classroom. Most started off by listing specific brands and devices. And, the words "21st century" and "paperless" were brought up multiple times.

I used to fall into the "paperless" classroom arena myself. And, I still don't like to use paper if I don't have to. However, to say "paperless" constitutes innovation is not entirely correct. I think next generation means innovation and collaboration. When we look at businesses like Google who are thriving, it's not because they are paperless, but because their work climate is about collaboration and innovation. While paper may not be a necessity there, that is not what defines them.

Likewise, in schools, we need to focus not on ways of ridding old technologies (because you can argue that paper and pencil are technologies) but on ways of redefining their uses. For instance, there is still a need for desks in testing situations so I doubt they will ever be rid from schools, but how can we redefine them? How can we encourage students to move around and share and collaborate? Can we infiltrate other chairs - chairs and desks that allow some to stand, some to rock, some to roll? Can we cover our walls with paint for us to share ideas? Can we empower classrooms with devices that are seamless - not devices that are defined to one classroom, but are part of the classroom infrastructure? I'd also like to rid classrooms of designated computer/non-computer time. Students should be knowledgeable of all devices so they have the power to take out the device that best supports them at the time.

So, what constitutes technology? When we purchase supplies for classroom, do we focus on whether it is Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. or what it's power to do is? I think most of us would agree that the focus should be on it's end power, but do we actually focus on that?

As I think about what future classrooms look like, I want to be less device-specific and more skill-oriented.

1 comment:

  1. I think technology in education involves more process related stuff than discrete pieces of this and that. Rubbing two sticks (discrete objects) together under the right conditions makes a spark. What makes a fire, however, is the mindful preparation of an environment (dry kindling protected from the wind) and the spark. I think it's the same way with educational technology: tools, apps alone don't don't accomplish much. Add story (context) and a motivated facilitator/teacher and motivated learners (fire) won't be far behind.