Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Final Tech Tips from Room 224

​This will be my final "Tech Tips from Room 224." I've included some links at the end of this post which I hope, if you are not using technology for teaching and learning, will at least begin to create an awareness and make you question, why you and as a district we have not shifted to a true digital learning environment. In addition, I've added some links to digital tools that I believe best support digital teaching and learning.

The key point I want to share has been clearly summarized in the white paper,  How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning by Tom VanderArk & Carri Schneider...
"...all students must have access to educational opportunities that foster deeper learning in order to be successful in college and their careers. Creating these opportunities for every student in every classroom can be achieved by using personal digital learning tools that customize the educational experience and serve the individual needs of each student on his/her own unique learning path."
It has been my goal to help educators in making the shift from pencil and paper, 20th century teaching and learning to a 21st century digital learning environment that leverages the technology tools to engage all students in learning experiences that are relevant to today's digital world, and allow for more creative and collaborative learning. While I believe I've made some headway in achieving my goal and I see amazing examples of digital teaching and learning in our school's classrooms, the district has a long way to go. I'm inspired by the YouTube Video For Malaysia showing how the entire country of Malaysia is going Google and providing Chromebooks for all 10 million students. If a whole country believes that reforming education can be done with affordable tools like Chromebooks and Google Apps, then why aren't we at least talking about the possibilities for our small district in rural Vermont?

Why do we still struggle here at WCSU with barriers to digital learning? Why don't we have technology in the hands of all students every day where they aren't simply tools to learn but tools for learning? Why do we still struggle with the technology where some classrooms don't have adequate numbers of computers for students and those that do it takes 15 minutes for a $600-400 student netbook computer to boot up in class when a $249 Chromebook is working in 10 seconds? Why aren't we considering 1:1 initiatives like other districts and exploring how digital learning will allow us to address the Common Core State Standards?
I'm not sure if it's the right reason we should change to digital learning but despite the motivation, Common Core State Standards will drive the change necessary to make digital technology part of students everyday learning experience but to shift to deeper learning with digital technologies it will require vision, planning and understanding.

Last summer I wrote a post in this blog called "Review of Focus" which was a challenge to our district administrators to think critically about a book they were reading called "Focus" by Mike Schmoker. My writing was somewhat tongue-and-cheek by fearing they would take it personally and I'd lose my job over challenging them to have vision and think about the implications of ignoring digital learning. But little did I know then that it would be taken personally and my prediction would come true. My position has been eliminated and I'll be leaving in a few days. While some may say it was due to lack of grant funding, I know that is not the whole truth but will not disparage the administrator who did so to me and took the blog post challenge personally.

My last tip to you as educators is to accept change and prepare your students for the digital world they live in and support each other in the transition to becoming digital educators.
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