After reading Michael Barber’s article on ‘How Could-and Should-Schooling Look in 2030’ I began to reflect on what the future might hold in my PYP classroom. My dream learning environment of the future is an open learning space with comfortable furniture filled with the latest technology. I will be able to enlighten my well-motivated, internationally minded students. However, from what I can remember these have been my dreams for some time.
I decided to compare my PYP classroom from 15 years ago with my vision for my future PYP classroom in 15 years time. When using Mary Beth Hertz’s levels of technology integration I can see that 15 years ago my technology integration was sparse. I would currently rank my classroom as between ‘comfortable and seamless’ but I wonder what the next 15 years will hold. What is beyond seamless?
I also reflected on how teacher use of technology may change in the future. Will the email epidemic continue to take up value time? Will university entrance exams become 100% digital thus releasing the pressure on handwriting expectations? I researched potential future technology use for the classroom including from ‘Co creation and the web of new things‘. I also attempted to keep my financial expectations realistic whilst considering how technology advancements can impact student learning in my classroom. Below is my infographic to demonstrate my ideas.
Schools face many challenges when attempting to integrate technology effectively. These challenges include training, awareness, and the prioritization of appropriate technologies based on cost and benefit. The adoption of technology is never a ‘one-stop’ solution but always a continual process of upgrading, learning, adapting, purchasing, training and implementing new tools.
It is becoming increasingly clear, at least in my classroom, that the redefinition of learning moves at a much faster pace when students, have access to a 1:1 device. This is expressed in Claire Wachowiak‘s blog post ‘A Beautiful Game’ where she compares not being 1:1 to a team of footballers not all being allowed on the pitch at the same time. Mark Prensky also highlights the impact of not having a 1:1 programme in his Edutopia article ‘Adopt and Adapt’.
Any ratio that involves sharing computers — even two kids to a computer — will delay the technology revolution from happening.
Image by Creative Commons. https://pixabay.com/p-214364/?no_redirect
However, there is a lot more to implementing technology than just purchasing it. ‘Alive in the Swamp: Assessing Digital Innovations in Technology’ is a detailed report by Michael Fullan and Katelyn Donnelly. In the foreward Sir Michael Barber addresses this concern:
For years – ever since the 1970s – we have heard promises that technology is about to transform the performance of education systems. And we want to believe the promises; but mostly that is what they have remained. The transformation remains stubbornly five or ten years in the future but somehow never arrives.
Below is a video summary of the Alive in the Swamp research paper.
Whilst reading this report I came across the term ‘activator’ to describe the new role of a teacher. This struck me as an excellent way to describe how our role is now being defined with technology in the classroom. This was illustrated in the report with a teacher as a ‘change agent’ (not just a facilitator of learning), guiding students to take charge of their own learning.
Active Proteins. Image from Creative Commons https://www.rcsb.org/pdb/images/2wns_bio_r_500.jpg?bioNum=
This report also supports the view that just having the technology is not enough. Teachers need support and guidance to effectively implement the technology. Mark Presnsky goes on to discuss strategies that might enable educators to do this:
So, let’s not just adopt technology into our schools. Let’s adapt it, push it, pull it, iterate with it, experiment with it, test it, and redo it, until we reach the point where we and our kids truly feel we’ve done our very best. Then, let’s push it and pull it some more.
This approach to integrating technology is not necessarily easy, but it is, I believe, important. The dangers of not supporting teachers in this approach are outlined in a recent Edudemic article focusing on the pros and cons of educational technology:
If not utilized properly, the positive effects of technology become negative which continue to hinder students’ success.
There are many things that administrators can do to enable teachers to be successful in integrating technology. Expectations and priorities should come from the leaders of the school, preferably supported with a proactive technology integrator. A culture of collaboration amongst teachers should also be encouraged, face to face, and also by utilizing an on-line PLN. A realization that this is a continual process for teachers and that time and guidance should be encouraged to accommodate this also helps. I also believe that teachers need to plan technology integration with a purpose. Whether modifying or redefining tasks, we need to actively plan to incorporate technology in a meaningful way to facilitate learning.
The good news is that there are many international schools leading the field in successful technology integration. By developing PLN’s and connecting with like-minded educators we can learn from each other to successfully integrate technology and move learning forward in our classrooms. Let’s get activated!