It took me some time, but I finally had “the” moment of clarity. Forgive me; I may be the only person in this class who has been experiencing vertigo. Let me elaborate. The first class was on the structure of organizations. It seemed odd to me that as students intent on instructional design that such a class would be necessary; however, I learned a LOT. That class single handedly explained so much about my previous working environments and their culture that I wish I had taken it years ago! Then, we take this class on learning theory. This makes sense to me because we will be planning instruction. In the meantime, our assignments in both classes had us, the students, immersed in this technology world. I put it this way because I just realized that there is a duality in play, partly due to the generational differences. I am an admitted digital immigrant. As I have explored the technology world and all it has to offer, it feels like I am in literally in another dimension. I feel behind, out of touch. When did I get behind? One of the reasons I was pink slipped at my last position was because I was too “innovative” too much, too soon for such a conservative school. I log out of the internet and look around and that world is not “everywhere,” at least not yet.
This week’s readings and exploration finally allowed me to organize the information in my mind so that I realized I am not Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit hole. There are two worlds. Yes, the technology world is real; but, it is not as pervasive as it appears online.
The Horizon Report (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009) “introduces six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use in learning-focused organizations within three adoption horizons over the next one to five years” (Johnson et al., 2009, p. 3). (This report was the catalyst necessary for me to utilize the bookmarking and notation features of my iAnnotate PDF software on my Ipad for the first time.) There were so many possibilities popping through my mind as I read the report, several times.
One Piece of the Puzzle
The Horizon report listed several critical challenges facing learning organizations:
- “There is a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy.
- Students are different, but a lot of educational material is not.
- Significant shifts are taking place in the ways scholarship and research are conducted, and there is a need for innovation and leadership at all levels of the academy.
- We are expected, especially in public education, to measure and prove through formal assessment that our students are learning.
- Higher education is facing a growing expectation to make use of and to deliver services, content, and media to mobile devices” (Johnson et al., 2009, p. 6).
Another Piece of the Puzzle
Edutopia.Org has numerous articles, blogs, and website links related to technology integration. During my research I quickly came across an article “Shaping Tech for the Classroom” (Prensky, n.d.). This article provides the reasoning behind my vertigo.
“The biggest question about technology and schools in the 21st century is not so much “What can it do?” but, rather, “When will it get to do it?” We all know life will be much different by 2100. Will school? How close will we be to Edutopia?
First, it helps to look at the typical process of technology adoption (keeping in mind, of course, that schools are not typical of anything.) It’s typically a four-step process:
- Doing old things in old ways.
- Doing old things in new ways.
- Doing new things in new ways” (Prensky, n.d., p. 1).
Mr. Prensky, a clearly important learning theorist, clearly details the realities of technology integration within the education system. Specifically, that it is not nearly as advanced as it hopefully will or should be. There is dabbling, doing old things in old ways, and there are some innovative instructors with innovative administrative support, doing old things in new ways. But, there are not nearly as many instructors doing new things in new ways as one who lives in the technology world would expect. There is certainly not nearly enough technology integration for the digital native (Prensky, n.d.).
Fortunately, Mr. Prensky outlines two primary challenges to technology integration:
(1) “The Big Tech Barrier: One-to-One” (Prensky, n.d., p. 1). This was clearly the case at my last school. In a class with 35 students I did not even have enough desks or supplies, much less computers. In fact, the department put the computers eight computers in a hallway on the opposite side of the building from my classroom to be used as a “computer center.” There were a few problems. First, space and seating was difficult. Even combining two or three students per computer, there were several students without a computer. There were other tables so I attempted to stagger students on computers with students off the computer, working on other aspects of a project. However, 35 students in a hallway next to four other classrooms was very bothersome to the teachers of those classes. The students were understandably excited. They were sharing information in their groups of two or three, or even with other groups when one found some information another group had not. Third, time was limited. There were only 50 minutes to take roll, get the students to the computers, logged on, and into the project, properly log off and return to the classroom before the bell. The logistics became very difficult and time consuming. After several complaints from other teachers I stopped using the “computer lab” and was denied any possibility of acquiring additional computers in my classroom.
(2) “The Social Barrier: Digital Immigrants” (Prensky, n.d., p. 1). This was also clearly evidence in my last school. I was a new teacher and the administration, counselors, and IT Tech were amazed at what I did with the computer. Mind you, I had thought I was pretty tech savvy, until recently. I created unique Powerpoints, cloze notes, links to animations in websites, had the students create presentations and present them. I even purchased my own projector and brought in a laptop to increase technology utilization. The students had their own website with links to assignments, calendar and email. The parents loved it. The administrators were concerned when I tried to download programs because they were afraid of viruses. The students were not allowed cell phones, or to use the computers for any email. In fact, the district had so many websites blocked that as a teacher I often had to do my research at home and then bring in information on my flash drive to download. As much as the other teachers loved my lesson plans and found them innovative, I made them feel uncomfortable and maybe even look bad because they did not offer their students the same opportunities.
Another Piece of the Puzzle – Interactions and Observations
My son’s elementary school does not have regular computer time each day. They have a computer period per week! That is not my idea of integration; however, his school was rated as a top California Blue Ribbon School.
I suggested to my son’s psychiatrist, a professionally well educated person, that my son would perhaps be better off academically in the K-12 Virtual Academy. His response was concerns over socialization. When I mentioned the idea to the school psychologist and resource teacher, again I was told that my son would not have an adequate academic education or socialization.
I am, however, confused as to what type of socialization these professionals are talking about. My son comes home with stories of being teased, ridiculed and manipulated. He is called names and tricked into doing things he is not aware are considered “inappropriate” in public school. These children allege to be my son’s friend only to say they were “just kidding.” Is it socialization these professionals are afraid my son will be missing in an online environment or crisis intervention skills or maybe conflict resolution skills?
The virtual academy is still a public school with state standards and testing. There is one teacher for each student and cooperative learning assignments similar to those we are engaged in. Additionally, he would have computer time every day. He would also be connected to technology fundamentally every day. The kicker is that the resource teacher alleged my son would not be eligible for the “support” he is going to receive with his IEP in place; however, the virtual academy is public so the IEP transfers there as well. Additionally, the program paces with the student, giving them the opportunity for mastery over subjects in the time they need, not the time allotted by the teacher struggling with 34 other students.
Last Piece of the Puzzle – Reflection
As I reflected back on my experiences over the last two months, online and off, I began to see the duality. Despite the fact that there has been a call to arms for technology integration for over 10 years, it is filtering so slowly that it truly is up to the instructional designers (teachers) to be the catalyst for change. Prensky, Downes, Siemens, just to name a few on the forefront of the technology integration war are alive and kicking! This is a challenge still in the earliest stages of adoption. Now I understand why the Introduction to Organization and Change was so important. Now I understand why leadership skills were emphasized. The top down approach is NOT working. This is a battle that will be won from the ground up, slowly. There are students in K-12 online learning environments and there will continue to be a migration in this direction; however, the vast majority of the students moving in that direction currently are those with instructional difficulties with the public system due to learning disabilities, health disabilities or behavioral issues. Unfortunately, it seems it will still be quite some time before the institution of “education” catches up with the technology.
Ball, A. (2003). Geo-Literacy: Using technology to forge new ground. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-geography-geology-history
Johnson, L., Levine, A., & Smith, R. (2009). The Horizon Report (2009 ed.). Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD5612.pdf
Moulton, J. (2006, December 6). Say yes to GPS: Bring latitude and longitude to life [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/latitude-longitude-global-positioning-system
Ormrod, J. E., Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2009). Constructivist theory. In Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition) (pp. 182-222). New York: Pearson.
Peterson, D. (2006). NatureMapping takes kids — and technology — outside and into active learning. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/node/1251
Prensky, M. (2006). Shaping tech for the classroom: 21st-century schools need 21st-century technology. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt-shaping-tech-for-classroom
Siemens, G. (2005, Jan). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm
Social learning theory: Bandura. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html