Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Is technology at school an event or a tool set?

I love Josh Allen‘s quotation on his Twitter page:

If technology is an event in your school, you are doing it wrong.

I developed and shared the workshop “Dynamic Classroom, Transparent Technology” back in 2005. Three years later we are still SO FAR from the ideal of using digital technologies in transparent ways in many of our classrooms.

BLC 2008 photo by Marco Torres

Of course we’ve come VERY far in some classrooms with respect to technology use as well. Generally, however, it is not a stretch to say here in Oklahoma where I live and work our uses of digital technologies in our classrooms to create, collaborate and communicate are frequently few and far between.

Is technology in your classroom an “event” or a “tool set?” What would your students say?

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8 responses to “Is technology at school an event or a tool set?”

  1. Josh Avatar

    In my district staff tech grad class tonight, we watched Chris Lehmann’s IgnitePhilly speech from a couple days ago and it was highly evident that his ideas are very far from A LOT of our classrooms. But we also have a teacher who is currently live blogging with his government students watching the debate. We have pockets…but it won’t make a difference in pockets.
    Great post. Never hurts as a reminder. Will be looking through your presentation.

  2. Mark Carls Avatar
    Mark Carls

    Great blog post and something I’ve been struggling with. I bring an Airliner into a room and it seems like it is just gets the “oohs and aahs”. Of course, I’m still learning the best way to use it myself, but I hope to get past the mini circus show and into using a tool to help learning. We’ll see what happens.

  3. Josh Avatar

    I had Katie Morrow ( iChat into my grad class tonight and she made a great point about making the SMART Board transparent in the classroom. But I do think it takes time because kids do oh and ah. It shouldn’t be about the SMART Board, it’s should be about what’s on the SMART Board.

  4. Dan Avatar

    It is sad but it is true, and its not even like our Tech guy is fighting for change. I am trying to change the face of my school and all I get is to make sure I am in line with our school philosophy and goals. Parents aren’t taught the way it should be, so they are stuck 150 years ago way and think if you do it otherwise it is wrong. I am ready to stand up for what is right for my students and fight the good fight.

  5. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    I resonate with your points, Josh. I am teaching with a Smartboard on Wednesday nights and on Sundays this fall and it often seems like (especially with the adults) they think I’m doing a magic show. They are amazed by the technology. Yet I am not there (ostensibly) to put on a technology magic show. In one case I am teaching a course on Google Earth, but I’d like them to be less impressed with the technology itself and my reasonable proficiencies in using it, and more focused on the ideas of the course and acquiring the skills we’re discussing in class. So far I’m not doing very well with that goal.

    Because the technology is so foreign and different, I think it is perhaps natural that people focus on it instead of the ideas being discussed. This is natural and perhaps unavoidable, as long as technologies are NOT ubiquitous and familiar. In many cases I’ve noticed, young people seem to acclimate and get “less impressed” with technologies like electronic whiteboards faster than older adults. Perhaps that is why we continue to purchase so many EWBs in our schools, despite an apparent lack of empirical research that these tools, USED APPROPRIATELY, can be beneficial for learning or instruction.

  6. Josh Avatar

    Dan-The best part about technology and plns is that your army, while not physically there, can provide you with much needed support. So many of us are pulling for you to succeed and share so that we all can succeed.
    Wes-I think no matter the age of your class, all new technology has to go through that “magic” period. Unfortunate circumstance, but I even get googley eyed over new technology.

  7. Bryan McDonald Avatar

    I agree with @Josh. Pockets are too small. I think the answer is in More MEANINGFUL PD and less scared teachers!

  8. Richard Byrne Avatar

    While professional development definitely factors into changing the use of technology from an “event” to a “tool set”, a much larger factor is the cost and logistics of change. I have been to schools and spoken with many teachers that want to and could do a lot of good if they were given access to the tools on a consistent basis. For example, a high school in my region has 1200 students yet only 100 computers available to students at any given time. All the professional development in the world is not going to make a significant change if the tools to implement change are not available. As Chris Lehmann said in his Ignite Philly speech, “if you put good teachers in a bad system, too often the system wins.”