I wasn’t really planning to get into this technology “thing.” When I received this new job I discovered technology was part of my portfolio. I tried to give it away. Other parts of my portfolio were siphoned off to members of the Leadership Team (eg. French Languages, French Immersion), but I ended up “stuck” with it. The Deputy Superintendent said something about it needing my vision. I wasn’t really sure what that meant since I’m not an early adopter, a geek or anything bearing any resemblance to a digital native. I’m the parent that hasn’t had a functional T.V. in our home for over twenty years. Yes, our four boys have grown up without the distraction of television. Ours has been a household of print. Books. Books. And more books. And rather than being glued to a screen of any sort we’ve opted for walking, biking, hiking, and running out in the fresh air. Truly, anything with technology of any substance has not been a significant part of my world. That could be a bit of a blessing in disguise.
So here I am, learning to tweet, blog, and send messages on my blackberry in the middle of meetings. Now I usually take my laptop with me wherever I go (although its much too heavy for my liking). I’m in the middle of my own immersion plan. I’m buried in reading other districts’ technology plans, trying to get grounded in what 21st century learning really means and experimenting with social media tools. I ask stupid questions of my ICT Helping Teachers (What’s a pingback?) and beg them not to teach me one more thing (“Elisa, have you listened to a podcast yet?”). I understand what it means to be digitally overwhelmed.
In the midst of this, I’m also trying to understand the technology requirements of our schools. What are the burning issues? What are their needs? How does this relate to transforming teaching and learning? It’s in this context that I was particularly impressed with David Warlick’s piece on 21st century learning. He is worthy of quoting:
“21st century learning has nothing to do with iPads, iPod Touches, or any piece of technology. The only thing that is one to one that we should be concerned with is equitable access to rigorous, relevant, and irresistible learning experiences that reflect and harness the times, environment, and ultimate goals of the learning.”
And then he follows it with this. Twenty-first century learning
“…is an experience that is responsive. Learners are not simply passive vessels to be filled. They are players within a game that plays back. It is inquiry fueled. It provokes conversations that factor in the learner’s identity and measures his standing. It inspires the personal investment of time and skill. ..and it is guided by safely made mistakes.”
Don’t you just love that? It certainly helps me keep the technology piece in perspective.