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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Integrating Technology Into Our Thinking About School Reform

All these things converged recently through conversations and reading blogs - about technology and integration of technology into our thinking much more thoroughly about school reform.

One was reading Will Richardson's post from August 7 (above snippet.) where he quoted Sylvia Martinez and Connecting Ed Tech to Ed Reform which made me think YES! (a favorite dog-eared book I can recommend by the way which is not about technology is Robert Evans "The Human Side of School Change: Reform, Resistance The Real Life Problems of Innovation") this makes so much sense - to connect educational technology to school reform.

One more thing  is that we have to be sure technology is thought of in an expansive way for teaching and learning, and not just constructivism but much more.  I always fear that we educational technologists may be boxing ourselves into an only-constructivist stance.

Then I listened to a podcast (scroll down to Episode 7 where he interviews David Elliot) from Chris Smith at Shambles (what a terrific resource) and where David Elliot talks about how his school used Grant Wiggins' Backward  Design/Understanding by Design as a framework for teaching and learning which also included technology.  

Earlier this summer I enjoyed this Teacher Tube which discussed how a Middle School in Australia had started a whole teaching and learning project - it started with having the students think about and understand how learning happens (something we often don't do - we teach the kids and expect that learning happens - but don't often talk about what learning is - what learning styles are - how the brain works.)  

Before that, I'd had a converation with Terry Dash, Director of Technology at The Pike School after she'd posted on the ISED-L listserv about a technology day involving teachers in the big picture thinking about technology -- not just having everyone view an LCD projector and show a few tech tools as so many tech professional development days often happen.  They opened up the thinking school-wide on what does successful technology use really mean.  Being in the trenches every day with teachers like Terry and so many others involves grappling with these big educational questions in a realistic way. 

Some are seeing technology as integral to teaching and learning and less as an "add on." Visiting Israel speaking and touring as part of the KATOM! Project, I was so impressed with how the teachers had actually redesigned curriculum when their students were given laptops. They didn't understand how remarkable this was - I said most U.S. schools had retrofitted technology into curriculum and not rethought or redesigned curriculum when 1-to-1 was introduced.  

Hopefully many more educators will really take this deep thinking approach to making technology integral and part of reform -- and not an add-on to what's already happening.  They'll seize the opportunity to consider the big picture and ask the tough questions about teaching and learning, how schools are changing and need to change, how the world is changing, and how technology needs to be right smack dab in the middle of it all.  

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