Technology: More than a tool, a new skill

Technology: More than a tool, a new skill

by corykrug I’m dumping another technology phrase that I think its time has passed by. A few years ago I stopped using the phrase 21st Century blah, blah, blah. You name it we were calling everything 21st Century. I haven’t missed that phrase in my vocabulary as I believe it is just the way things should be now that we’re 11 years into it. I was thinking about this phrase again the other day as I was talking to seniors…who were born around 1994 and who started their official schooling sometime around 2001. Why are we still using the phrase 21st Century this and that when for our students….it’s always been the 21st Century. It just is their world. That brings me to the next phrase that is going to leave my vocabulary. The notion that Technology is just a tool I have heard this said way too often-to the point, I believe, that some educators are using it to hide behind when it comes to using technology in their classrooms.  Is Technology a tool? Yes. Is it JUST a tool? No. Technology is a Skill The more I’ve been rolling this notion over in my head the past couple of days the more sense this makes to me. If we call technology a skill…then a skill is something we need to teach, something that needs to be learned. If we call technology a tool then it’s just something we use. The problem is you need to have the skills to use a tool before you can use it propertly and have it effect your life in positive ways.  A car is a tool, it gets us from point A to point B. Now we could load the car with people and have someone push it down the road. That’s using the car as a tool for transporting people from point A to point B. But once we learn the skill of driving the car it becomes a lot more efficient. A lot more practical. A pencil is just a tool, but until you learn the skill to hold it correctly it doesn’t do you much good. Viewing technology just as a tool never allows us to get past the substitute stage of technology innovation. A stage were we just continue to subsitute one tool for the next. Quil and ink for pen and paper for word processing. The skill...

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Where was this when I was growing up?

My Brother Harvesting Dry Peas   Technology continues to reinvent every part of our lives. Even parts of our lives that we don’t think about everyday. Farming is one of these. As a field of study (pun intended) and as a practice agriculture has gone through and continues to go through some major changes. In a recent article on Read Write Web Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote about the new driverless tractors of the future. Growing up on a farm all I can think about is: Where was this when I was a kid?  What fascinates me is as the attention of the self-driving Google car continues to get the press really smart people are looking at this idea and applying it to other situations. We might not be ready to trust a car with our lives going 60MPH down the freeway. But how about a tractor going about 6MPH around and around in a field? Check out this video:   Of course this really is just the next step for farmers who have already been playing with such technology. My Uncle, who works on a large farm in the middle of Washington State, has a GPS driving device. He lines up the tractor, pushes a button and for the next 45 minutes to an hour (the time it takes to reach the other end of the field) he sits back and reads the newspaper, or a book as the tractor guides itself down to the other end of the field. With perfect overlap and no skips in the field. When he reaches the other end he simply turns the tractor around and heads back.  This is just one area where technology is disrupting farming. New chemicals, new seed varieties, and new machinery that is faster and more efficient continues to out pace our food consumption.  Farmers are also taking advantage of other technologies. Using Twitter to communicate and form networks, using the Internet to research and stay on top of the latest trends and news in their field (pun intended). If you’re not a connected farmer today taking advantage of new ways to connect then like other industries you’re falling behind.  I just keep thinking about all the hours I spent on a tractor going around and around in a field thinking of all the things I wish I was doing instead. Or how my time could have been used differently? I think of my family now and how technology has changed just...

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Working with the Willing

So a new school year is upon us, as today was the first day for students at ISB. I spent the first hour helping new middle school students find their way around the school….what fun. ISB set a new record for the amount of new students this year. A HUGE turn around year with 100s of families leaving and 100s more filling their place. It always makes me wonder what’s going on in the bigger picture that you have this kind of turn around in a year…..interesting….and I have no answer. As the new year begins though I’m thinking about my job and once again supporting teachers. This is a touchy subject and the reason why I’m putting it out there is to see where everyone else is on this idea. My job is to support teachers in using technology in their classroom. I don’t have any classes of my own I support full time. But I’m supporting an initiative that we all believe in but isn’t required. It’s not required that my teachers use technology. It’s not required that they rethink how they teach in the era of open access to content. They’re not required to rethink education as they know it. Their job is to teach….and they do a good job at it. We had 100% pass rate of IB diploma students last year….again. Our students continue to get into top colleges and universities around the world and parent feedback continues to come back that we’re doing a hell of a job educating their children.  So, why do we need to change? Why do we need to rethink education? Why do we have to even worry about technology? and Why do they have to use me?   The answer is they don’t. Some choose to at different times, some are really thinking about the future and where this is all leading and other classrooms I never see the inside of. I’m here because teachers, at some level, are forced to use technology. E-mail, Moodle, PowerSchool are the three programs that everyone has to use. So yes….I’m need to support the use of these with teachers, but not in learning, not with students, basically so teachers can do their job.  And I have no problem doing that…..they’re just paying me a lot of money to be an application support person. So it comes down to working with the willing. Working with those...

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Secondary Principals Support Mobile Learning

by alphadesigner I always get excited when national international organizations (members in 45 countries) come out with statements that encourage the use of technology for learning purposes. Partly because my beliefs in the future of education and the tools students need to succeed, but also because it’s one more organization we can lean on as leaders. The National Association of Secondary School Principals just released a statement advocating the use of Mobile and Social Technologies in Schools. Yes…that’s right….principals are saying we need to use these tools for learning. W00T! A couple of quotes from the article that I like:  Yet as mobile and social technologies become ubiquitous, attempts to block them are increasingly ineffective. For example, in schools that prohibit cell phones, 54% of students still report sending texts during the school day (Lenhart, 2010). In recent years, there has been explosive growth in students creating, manipulating, and sharing content online (National School Boards Association, 2007). (Love how this quotes 4 year old research) Nowhere is the vision for the use of mobile and social technologies more clearly articulated than in the National Educational Technology Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). The plan describes new models of teaching and learning in which students and teachers are virtually connected to one another, to colleagues, to fellow students, and to a variety of resources that maximize opportunities for anytime-anywhere learning. I suggest you sent the article on to your principal no matter where they stand on this issue. Mine will be receiving it tomorrow in their...

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5 Billion Cell Phones and Poverty

A report out last Thursday from the United Nations as reported by Fast Company looks at the mobile subscription rate word wide. I haven’t read the whole article but some of the quotes that Fast Company have are pretty interesting. There are about 25 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people in the least developed countries (LDCs), according to theInformation Economy Report 2010. That’s up from just 2 per 100 a few years ago. From 2% to 25% in a year…..is it just me or is that some rapid growth? But not all is rosy. The report warns that the opportunities are “unevenly distributed and not always sustainable.” Yes…but with growth rates like that and no sigh of it stopping I think this will even out. When I was in Laos I witnessed this first hand. In some of the rural areas we hiked through whole villiges would chip in to by a cell phone. It was their connection to the villages round them and into the city to find work and a market for their goods. I’ve been saying this for awhile now. The future is in mobile phones. The more I travel the world and see just how connected we are via cell phones the more I’m convinced this will be the true 1:1 device. Now what are we doing in our schools to help those fortunate enough to have a cell phone now prepare to work in a world where potentially everyone is...

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