Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hi tech...Hi Touch...not mutually exclusive

There have been several studies, as well there should be, about the impact of technology on learning. It can become a divisive issue between educators.
in the Washington Post this week, Cecilia Kang wrote an article, High-tech vs. no-tech: D.C. area schools take opposite approaches to education. It explores two schools with very different, and perhaps extreme approaches to technology.
I believe what is required is a balanced approach. “We have to stop and think if we are embracing technology just because it is there and new or if it is the best tool for what we want to accomplish,” said Michael Rich, director of the Center on Child Media and Health at Harvard University. “Sometimes the answer is that an iPad is great, but does it really do a better job than a hunk of clay or paper.". In my last district, Saratoga Union, I was proud to be on both the technology committee and the garden committee.
I do not agree that technology investments are made on the 'backs of teachers' and that teachers, like me by the way, who are laid off would not have been if only our district had not invested in those iPads. But I also have seen the folly of "over purchase", where teachers who were not willing, inclined or ready to use technology were forced to have it in their classroom, where usually it sat gathering dust. One of my colleagues used her expensive hi-tech media cart to hold her overhead projector.

Technology doesn't make a better teacher, but it can help a teacher teach better. My kids are not only learning to use technology. They are learning what the Partnership for 21st Century Skills calls the 3Rs and 4Cs- they are learning math, science, social studies, language arts and they are learning problem solving and developing critical thinking skills, they are collaborating, communicating and creating and innovating.
I worked in technology for 20 years and my husband still does. He doesn't understand why teachers would not want to use technology as a tool to help prepare kids for their futures. In Kang's article, she quotes an administrator"Tech is like oxygen,” said Shannan Schuster, Flint Hill’s dean of faculty. “It’s all around us, so why wouldn’t we try to get our children started early?”

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