Angela makes a pretty powerful case for the alignment of tech tools with what we are teaching/learning. This has long been a cause of mine - that the technology should serve some sort of pedagogical purpose, not merely be put into a lesson for "fun" or because the district has decided to go with blogs and wikis as a form of PD. I pushed back in a district recently that asked me to use a particular tool that an administrator had seen, but not used, while working with teachers on differentiated instruction. I pontificated on my stance (and I don't say that lightly - I know I did it) and made sure they understood that I would not sacrifice the deeper learning about differentiating for the sake of the technology tool.
And at the same time - I was a hypocrite. The district had also asked me to go virtually paperless in order to model technology integration for teachers. This was not my first time working with the teachers, they had gone through "the fundamentals" with me and I thought going paperless was a grand idea. We were going to spend some time on design and the teachers would all have laptops so the electronic content would make things easier for all.
So - I embedded a poll and a WallWisher wall into the website as a pre-assessment tool. Nothing fancy - just replacing the paper/post-it note activity with one that was virtual. And while we did not get completely derailed - we certainly slowed a bit as the teachers wanted to learn how to use the tool and ask questions about access. Did the use of technology align? Yes - to the going paperless objective. Maybe not to the differentiated instruction.
When the technology gets in the way of the learning - whether because it doesn't work the way we want it to or because it is "dazzling" - learning doesn't happen. Or rather, not the learning we had intended or planned for.
Angela talks about her best work involving a lot of discomfort - I know that I learned a great deal as I developed the website for the teachers and thought about which tools to embed and which to save for another day. But did my learning and the discomfort of using a tool promote the learning of the teachers?
I had hoped for a relatively presenter-free day - one in which I had created a tool for the teachers to use and explore differentiation as they designed for their classrooms with me there to guide them as needed. Instead, the website became the powerpoint and we walked through it together. Was it because I hadn't crafted the experience well enough or was it because after the initial resistance to working on their own, I resorted to "expert" mode?
I have been and continue to struggle with the role that technology should play as I work with teachers. On one hand, I think the use should be purposeful and meaningful. Kim Cofino's recent post on Looking for Learning and her observation rubric has me thinking about making the use of technology more transparent and embedded. Kim Moritz's post on Facebook in schools has me thinking about open conversations with educators about technology that presents both the good and the bad and seeks solutions. And now, Angela has me thinking about alignment and discomfort and change.
I don't know everything there is to know about technology or technology tools - I only know where they fit in my world. I try to promote questioning and exploration - but more often than not am not truly successful. I get a lot of sharing -but not a lot of pushback or discourse.
How do we change professional learning to embrace this?