Saturday, July 6, 2013

Social Media... and stuff (post 1 of 2 - stay tuned!)

Last week I gave a presentation on “Social Media in Education” to some future classroom teachers. What I prepped was a “Here’s the why”, “Here are some tools”, “Here is how you can use them personally/professionally” and “Here is what you can do with them in the classroom”. I wanted to model some tools along the way like Poll Everywhere, Today’s Meet, and Padlet. We didn’t get very far. The students raised some interesting questions and points (see bulleted points below) that I really needed time to reflect on (see rambling responses below bulleted points). 

  • Why is technology being placed above highly effective teaching?

I will never advocate for the use of technology for the sake of using technology. But the MEANINGFUL use of technology in the classroom can offer students opportunities that we previously had never even imagined. 

For example - one student shared that his 9th grade geography class was mostly coloring maps. I shared that my 7th grade geography class used Skype and various presentation tools to connect with a sales manager from India who was living in South Africa and spent time touring sub-Saharan Africa. He talked with us about culture, technology, farming, showed maps for location, pictures of the homes and environments, and shared first-hand experiences with my students who were studying sustainability in agriculture (one of the UN millennium developmental goals) in the region. Without technology, I would never have been able to offer my students an opportunity like this.

Technology is not the end all, be all. If you think it is you are in for a rude awakening. But on the way home I wondered - can you be, or are you, a highly effective teacher if you are not using the BEST resources as they apply to the content? You can’t use technology as the fix-all, but you also can’t avoid it and stay relevant. 

  • Technology is not the silver bullet that makes ineffective teachers more effective.
This one I completely agree with, and I never said it was (which they also agreed with, and added that their regular prof did not address it that way, either). But this is the impression they all seemed to have. If you are getting this message, you are not following the right people. My resources included articles from forward-thinkers like Steve Hargadon, Scott McLeod, and Vicki Davis, to name a few. If you don’t like the way administrators and legislators are pushing technology, then find a way to be a change agent! Be the voice that explains to the public, to the legislators, to your administrators, exactly what effective teaching looks like!

There are movements within the ed tech community to not only offer better training on the front end, in our teacher prep programs, but to find a way to offer it for those mid and late career educators who missed out in teacher prep. If you are not embracing the best tools in your classroom, technology based or otherwise, you will quickly become irrelevant.

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