Change is in the Air

Change – it’s an interesting thing and there’s plenty of it going around.  Teaching and learning is changing with new tech tools.  And at the halfway point in Course 1, it’s a good time to reflect on my own personal change.  I haven’t changed much of my day to day practices in the classroom as a result of the course yet. But I can definitely feel a change in my thinking around the role of technology in teaching and learning.  In Shaping Tech for the Classroom Marc Prensky describes a four step process of the adoption of technology in schools:

  • Dabbling.
  • Doing old things in old ways.
  • Doing old things in new ways.
  • Doing new things in new ways.

I think in my teaching career I’ve seen this process in myself and in the schools I’ve worked in.  In the beginning everyone was dabbling – it was new for everyone.  Reading his descriptions I would say I am now at doing old things in new ways.  I’ve probably been here for a while, but over the last few weeks I moved closer to the edge.  I feel like I am standing on tip toes right at the edge of a great precipice.  For me this gap (or this next step) seems biggest out of all of them.  I moved through the first three steps pretty seamlessly as a result of the people and school environment around me.  However, I feel this next step is going to take more from me; more intentionality and maybe more from my new connected world around me.

I’m lucky.  As a school, we are doing new things in new ways thanks to an active Research and Development department, but I also want to contribute at the classroom level.  I don’t want to wait for findings – I want to be part of the findings.

So what will push me over?  Why have I been standing at the edge for so long?  Prensky states that there are two major factors that get in the way of technology adoption:  “One of these is technological, the other social.”

Since the technology side of things are in place in my school, I presume it has something to do with being a digital immigrant.  While I wouldn’t say I am resistant to change as Pesky generalizes of educators, I would say I need guidance with some changes.

There is a place for doing old things in news ways – these may be the things that make us more efficient learners or educators – we can communicate/connect with others faster, get information faster, and cross reference and share information.  I write about how BYOD has enhanced and personalized the learning experience of elementary students and describe some of the benefits.  But I believe there is still a shift to be made.  I believe there is more.  I haven’t been able to visualize it yet.  I want enhanced learning not just teaching or learning made easier.  I want transformative learning not just increased engagement in teaching and learning.  While engagement and ease are important, these are already in place.

Tools like Blooms Digital Taxonomy give us hints about what could be core aspects of ‘new things in new ways’.  Jeff Utech pens Prensky’s steps into questions to help administrators evaluate teachers.  And within each step there are more specific questions or things to look for in ‘new things in new ways’ which give me clues about the direction I need to head in:

  • learning from people previously not available
  • students interacting with information in a meaningful and new way
  • allowing student to create and share knowledge with a new audience

But perhaps before I look for ways to do ‘new things in new ways’ I need to take a look at and reflect on my role as a teacher.  Mark Prensky talks with Stephen Heppell about the changing roles of the teacher and the attributes they need.  Maybe it is more important for me to start here – and that last step will follow.

 

So I’m at the edge.  I need a parachute, a zip-line or a couple of concrete examples of ‘new things in new ways’ to give me that push.  I’m looking for new things in new ways – transformative lessons/projects/units.  Is there anyone out there ready to give me a push? Do I have the courage it will take to transform my role as a digital immigrant teacher of digital native students in the 21st Century?

 

Prensky, M.  (2005) Shaping Tech for the Classroom – 21st-century schools need 21st-century technology. https://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt-shaping-tech-for-classroom