I was asked to speak at CIO and Ed Congress about keeping technology Fresh and Natural for Students and Teachers in the Classroom.
They were good. There were some interesting questions afterwards. They clapped, said some good things and went on their way. However, there were a couple of interactions that confirm that my message is ringing a bell.
One CIO was trying to slow down the mass adoption of tablets in their district. There is an administrator at the district level who is “gung ho” to implement the tech. The CIO is concerned, not form a financial point of view, or from and infrastructure point of view. The CIO is worried that the tech will collect dust because there does not seem to be a good rational as to why the tech or how high will the tech reach on the SAMR model.
At this point the conversation had nothing to do with SMARTBoards. It was much more about one of my slides that talked about the importance of asking the right questions. It is less important to worry about how to get the tech and much more important to know what you want students to be doing and then find the right tech. He worries that his district has not asked the right question.
I had another conversation about the videos from my classrooms. I changed his mind about what collaboration really looks like. It is like being part of a baseball league. You think you know how to play ball, then you move up to the PRO’s and realize how much you did not know. He thought he understood things about collaboration with tablets and 1:1 devices. But when he saw the video of students working the light simulation, he realized the power of a large format digital interactive surface to help students reach a higher level of collaboration.
My third conversation of five, was with a principal. It was the most intruiging. He talked about how I was the only teacher-presenter and how it made all the difference. I was not selling a product, I was trying to sell an educational philosophy and practice. The right tech will be around for the right tool for the right learning activity. The tech will speak for itself.
He was building a new school and had given up on SMARTBoards. He did not use these words, but it was the right sentiment. They seem to be TPR’s..traditional Pedagogy Replicators- expensive chalkboards that do not change pedagogy. He was working to secure a large purchase of tablets expecting to increase collaboration. But their vision of collaboration seems to be more like contribution or cooperation where individuals work on separate parts and then paste them together. Each piece of the puzzle does not need to know much about the other piece. This is contrasted by collaboration where students work on the same piece at the same time in an iterative process where minds are changed and consensus is built. NOW he wants to stall his order and seriously consider SMARTBoards over tablets. He also recognized the importance of PD to show this new vision of what collaboration means. This is the second time in 2 years at this same conference that a large tablet order was cancelled and SMARTBOards reconsidered as a way of collaboration.
This administrator was particularly impressed with the middle part of my talk. The first was philosophy and the last was tips. The philosophy was nothing he hadn’t heard before. However, a sentence that I said about the practice having integrity with the philosophy was sometime missing. The middle section talked about how the philosophy matches the practice for tasks that are common place, but altered enough to make significant difference. It seemed like a reasonable but powerful step forward. I am glad I did not delete that piece in exchange for the more fun, but further from their reality section of “Inspired Collaboration”. The middle part about the research, the literacy and the inspired AMP -One Million Lights project was a powerful combination. Here is the data, here is a reasonable step that anyone from any subject area can grasp and implement and finally, there is a high level vision to grow into.
That night at supper, Sir Ken Robinson spoke. He has done some great work creating a new vision and identifying the problems. He has been criticized for having few solutions. As he says, he had 18 min, give him a break!! The last two times I heard him speak, they were similar talks. His new book was a new edition of his old book. I thought they were powerful. But this time, his new book seems to be examples of how to implement some of the things he is speaking about. It seems more practical and grounded. The whole time he is talking, I am thinking, Science 12 does that, science 12 does that too. And her we do that three!! I wonder if Science 12 should have been in his book.
It is easy for me to think that I am doing good things, but it is hard to know what others really think. They clap at the end of talks and say good things, but that is just them being polite. However, I thin it says something important, encouraging and validating when people seek you out, miss meetings and talk about specific parts of the talk.
Maybe there is something here more than I know.