It’s been getting a wee bit crazy, and will be for at least the next two weeks (apologies in advance if my posts get sparse). Today I began the morning talking to our local elementary school teachers at their staff development day as a consequence of offering to assist in their technology efforts and a welcome reception by the principal. A really committed principal and great staff working in the context of a woeful funding situation and inadequate tech support…
My role was to provide some big picture guidance which then would spark their working sessions around technology. We started with the latest incarnation of the Shift Happens 2 video to set the stage. I then presented a bit of my strange and twisted background before going through some thoughts on curriculum, pedagogy, and technology (nothing new to regular readers of this blog).
Interestingly, I talked afterwards to one of their many bright lights (the designated technology coach), and when I said (as before) that they shouldn’t be teaching the apps, but talking about goals (represent your hypothesis) and giving the kids reference cards, she had an interesting response. She said she’d tried that, and some kids were left helpless. 4th graders!
This, I admit, boggled my mind. I know I’m an idealist and optimist (much of the time :), but this is a pretty good school. I don’t know if their parents aren’t using tech (which is the situation in some of our families), or that they’re not seeing tech sufficiently in earlier grades (which also happens to some extent). I suggested that the approach allows the teacher to work with those who are having trouble with the steps, and that even other students who did get it could help, but it felt a bit weak.
In retrospect, I think it argues even more strongly that the approach I suggest should be used, but much earlier! Perhaps the teaching can and should be how to use references to learn to things with technology tools, not just how to save a file, but instead, when your goal is to do x (e.g. save a file), how to look up x in the reference card and follow the steps.
Which mimics my overall response which is that in this age of increasing knowledge and knowledge change, we need to be modeling, and equipping our learners to, use resources to solve problems, not to learn specifics that will soon be out of date.
I confess I’m not steeped enough in this particular literature, so I’ll have to do some searching, but as I told them, I don’t have answers but I’m happy to work with them to figure the answers out. Which pretty much overextends out my philanthropy bandwidth, but some things are just too important! Fingers crossed.