TechForum Beyond the Hype Panel: Question 3

A Flickr image by R. Martinez, merged with a Wordle build from the RSS feed of the latest blog articles that include “more time for teachers.

It has been a few days since I’ve had time to get back to this, and this question is particularly irksome, though it’s something that we’ve all talked about — almost constantly.

Identify the two most significant barriers to using connective technologies in schools, and suggest a strategy/strategies for overcoming them.

  1. Access to information
  2. Time to react, reshape, and adapt

We live in an information-abundant world, where many of us walk around with Google in our pockets — a profound transformation from the information scarce world that I grew up and even taught in.  Our schools at that time were defined by their limits, what could be taught within the four walls of the classroom, the flat space of a chalkboard, and the two covers of a textbook.

As
an aside, I wonder that beyond the relevance of digital, networked
content for learning, fund-constrained schools may find that digital
content and learning opportunities might actually be more
cost-effective than traditional products and practices.

Being able to live, work, and prosper in an information-abundant environment requires, above all other things, the ability to relentlessly learn, and this is what our students should be doing now — learning in schools that are defined by their lack of limits.  We need to assure that every learner, on both sides of the teacher’s desk, have nearly unfettered access to global content, and tools for accessing, working, and contributing back to that content.  This will be achieved through a
new vision for education, courageous leadership, and acceptance that a forward-reaching society has no choice but to pay for it.

Providing teachers with three or four hours of planning time every day will certainly be more difficult to achieve.  It runs more counter to schooling-as-usual than tossing textbooks for laptops.  Yet, when
considering the possible benefits to our students learning experience, boost to the profession, and relief to the families of classroom teachers, it behooves us not to easily set this suggestion aside.  If we are not willing to at lease consider changes as radical as restructuring the school day/week to give teachers more professional time, then we’re simply not going to make it.

There are several ways that this could be accomplished.  Simply require students to spend less time in the classroom by redefining homework, structuring more engaging, project-based work for students that results in learning. With more planning time scheduled into the day, we would likely have more talent coming into the profession.  The establishment of a trained and capable paraprofessional league of educators and/or an apprenticeship program would free up master teachers for planning,
collaboration, research, materials development, liaising with families and the community, professional development, assessment, and more.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.