November 11, 2010

Ed Tech

After a very hectic fall of conferences, school visits, and coordinating life between my loved ones and their new domiciles, I have about three weeks of concentrated time for reading, writing, and deep concentration on ongoing projects. Writing in a more reflective mode, rather than a reporting style, will be awesome for me as I seek to synthesize all of the ideas I am playing with this fall.

I am struck this morning by the wording that summarizes the final version of the National Education Technology Plan released a few days about by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  (Download the Executive Summary or the full plan)

The NETP focuses on individualized instruction and connectivity as well as technology enhanced learning for teachers and students as important and effective ways to prepare students for higher schooling as well as work and citizenship in a globally connected world.

In all the places I go, the message is rather loud and consistent, that is, coming from the speakers and presenters: technology, connectivity, creativity, consume and produce information, prepare for work life, process skills overarch content. Yet, I am also struck by the numbers of people,  and sadly many independent school leaders, still trying to change, negate, or deny the conversation. The ...yeah, but...chorus is alive and well, and I believe, morally repugnant when you consider that our mission is to prepare kids for their futures, not our pasts.

The NETP outlines five goals:

1.  using educational technology to fundamentally change the learning process by making it more engaging and tailored to individual student needs and interests;

2.  using ed tech to develop a new generation of assessments;

3.  connecting teachers with their peers and experts so they are always up-to-date on the resources available to them;

4.  building infrastructure that lets schools support access to technology in and out of the classroom;

5. harnessing the power of educational technology to increase school district productivity and student achievement.

“If we accomplish all of these goals, we’ll have realized the advance potential for technology to prepare students for success in the internationally competitive, knowledge-based economy,” Duncan said.

These goals outlined by the NETP are solid and right-headed.  Why not structure a meaty and bold conversation about these goals:  where are we with these philosophically?  what is story of what these goals look like fully implemented at our school?  what would have to be true in our mindsets, our structures, our leadership, our faculty and staff culture and habits, our parents' understanding, our board leadership, and our daily life for the story of this goal fully implemented to be true?  where are we now? where do we start to apply pressure, influence, and expectations?

That would be a constructive and bold conversation. A conversation that would be best informed by imagination and creative thinking that is grounded in knowledge, possibility, and the moral imperative of doing what is right for children. 

The wrong way to have this conversation:  appoint a committee. A committee is the place good ideas go to be tortured, then die.

1 comment:

  1. I've only just started looking at the document, but I am already struck by the this paragraph of the introduction:

    "... schools must be more than information factories; they must be incubators of exploration and invention. Educators must be more than information experts; they must be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students..."

    This sounds pretty good to me. I have to dig deeper to learn more about what the steps are to actually make this happen.


What do you think? How do you interpret this idea in your environment?