Thursday, July 14, 2011

Learning to Fly

Today for me was the most meaningful in that what I saw regarding student engagement was amazing.  Although I do not believe that technology can replace the teacher, I do believe that technology can be used to allow students who already possess basic skills to fly.  There is no doubt that we need structures in place to guide the education of children, but sometimes those structures can obstruct a child's true potential.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Place it closer to them

The experiment of placing computers close to the students made me think about the possibility to replicate in some ways the idea to accomplish some of our needs.

During this week, one topic that have been discussed several times is the lack of technology within our families. It makes sense that the families most likely of not having access to a computer are those on poverty. At the same time families in poverty usually live in apartment complexes. 

Most districts will have some computers ready for surplus, still functioning and having access to internet. Is it crazy to think about the possibility of making agreements between building administration and districts to place some of this computers available for our students?  I'm sure it is more complicated than it sounds, but still a viable idea if you want to give students access to technology. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Google Appetite

Today exposure to the google applications reminded me about an old feeling. When I was starting my career as educator I was introduced to a wide spectrum of alternatives... Education offered itself a variety of pathways of expertise. Do I remain in elementary or high school level? Do I specialize in Math or I pursue the human development and possible focus on counseling? Do I see myself as a leader or I prefer to become an whole life dedicated instructor?...

Feeling like these have never left me alone... it happens again and again when you attend a new conference or get in contact with new ideas... Inside of you arise the feeling of a new possible expertise. The down side of this reality is that haunting feeling that trying to become an expert in everything will most likely take you to become "nobody", and expert in nothing... Spreading out to thin is not a comfortable feeling.

The information revolution and technology opportunities of nowadays don't help,  and that was exactly the feeling I experienced this morning when I realized again that there are so many things to learn about, that just jumping all around different places resemble like attending this amazing banquet  where the endless alternatives are bigger that your appetite and bit and pieces is not enjoyable.

I don't know if my approach to this situations have been the best choice, I am not sure I have sacrifice the possibility of a granular expertise in something, and if that would be a better choice.  Honestly I don't have if one is better than the other. Nevertheless,  if something has helped me on my personal process is to keep alive on of my mantras:  to be an educator you first have to be a learner... learning as life attitude is crucial for educators.

How much did I get today? I don't know... what I know is that I learn more opportunities around,  I'm looking forward to work with some of them soon... the rest will be a part of my subconscious memory to be recall eventually.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Is technology the pencil ?

Years ago I attended a technology in education conference, one of the presenters made the reflection about all the changes that our society have made in Science, he specifically brought to our reflection to imagine a hospital 100 years ago and now. His point was to say that all the technological and scientific improvements have not made a huge impact in education; that our classrooms pretty much look the same as they were 100 years ago.

I agree that some areas of education have not changed, but it is my impression that those are more linked with the system as a whole. Age grades, assessments, teacher roles... still remain in some ways static, but it is due more to a political and sociological pressures, rather than a lack of research, innovation or technology.

The use of technology in education is a real opportunity, no doubt. The amount of resources available and the exposure to technology that our students are immerse in, and will continue is real.  The amount of information and resources are endless. Overall we can say that technology is for the future of our students what the pencil or the book were in the past.

As educators this is not enough. The tools are nothing without the mentor, the exposure to those resources is in my opinion irrelevant at the point that  some times we don't realize that our technological approach is useless for our students (which most of the time are one mile ahead of us).  Pencil, book or technology is not our duty... high level of thinking, challenge and collaboration...  are, have been and will remain the some core duties of our mission.

Technology is the pencil of the future, but only good education help the student to gain from it. A good teacher is with or without technology, and the impact that has on the student is endless.  I'm not against technology, on the contrary, I support and try to encourage new available resources to enhance what is our core duty.

Creativity and Balance

Sir Ken Robinson reflection about the similarity of public education and fast food where the system seems to have a linear vision about what and how education should be.  I agree with his view about the importance to have a organic approach to the educational process, I agree as well to the challenges our current students face when motivation and pleasure of learning and discovering themselves seems not to match with every day's expectations on the school site.

We are touching a sensitive field when on one hand there are specific learning targets to accomplish in order to be "on track for college" and on the other hand a system that still decides what, when, how you are learning.

Taking the risk of sharing a short reflection without the opportunity justifying my thoughts;

+ Education is complex and one of the most important chanllenges of our society.

+ Rather than "what, when and how", any educator have to have a clear philosophy about education and his/her roll on the process. On other words WHY we are on the education field, WHO is the student (knowledge), and WHAT is our envision of our student's future.

+ Balance between fulfilling basic needs to survive and opportunities to flourish.

+ The importance of  developing the switch from my vision to his/her potential.