The financial part of the EdTech Plan for next year was approved by the School Board last evening, and I couldn't be happier! We will be finishing up projects from this year, including upgrading our network with switches, servers, new Internet filter, more Internet bandwidth, and also the replacement of three computer labs; and then we will transition right into updated alternative high school/credit recovery software, updated and expanded ELL software, and updated middle school Family and Consumer Science software. We're adding five Chromebook labs, replacing an old laptop lab with Chromebooks, adding ten more Chromebooks, and adding a few interactive white boards, projectors, and document cameras. We're also going to beef up our wireless and replace our current email system with Gmail. Finally, when we move into the end of next school year, we will replace the elementary teachers' computers with laptops, and replace three mobile labs of computers with new equipment.
Thanks to our teachers who are working so hard to get technology into the hands of students to improve their learning. Their dedication to teaching and learning in new ways is truly amazing. It's always so exciting to work on plans for coming years when you know the teachers are with you. As long as we keep asking, "What's best for kids?," I don't think we can go wrong. I am proud to be a part of the Storm Lake Schools where we are all working very hard to maximize the learning of every student.
I just read an article from Tech & Learning discussing the transformation possible with technology, which is too often hampered by thinking about learning the same way we thought about it before the widespread availability of technology. Please read the article. It is short, and it is so important:
The author of the article, J. Robinson, presents this quote:
"When people adopt technology, they do old things in new ways. When people internalize technology, they find new things to do." James McQuivey, Digital Disruption: Unleasing the Next Wave of Innovation
This difference between "adopting" and "internalizing" is extremely important. Yes, there's educational merit to drill and practice flashcards on an iPad. Yes, there's educational merit to watching a YouTube video on a Chromebook. Yes, there's educational merit to typing a paper on a laptop or reading a book on an eReader or creating a presentation in interactive whiteboard software. However, none of those things are harnessing the potential for learning that technology offers.
I could go into a whole list of the transformative powers of technology for learning, but what's the most important thing technology is doing for me right now?
Collaboration and networking.
I'm no longer tied to just my local peers that I see at a meeting now and then or tied to a few emails once in awhile with fellow EdTechs in the area. I can go so much further and collaborate and learn with anyone in the world who has an Internet connection. I can find other people who are grappling with the same things I am and learn from them while they learn from me; I can follow my passion and find others who share that passion; and I can share my work with a wide audience. Through Google Apps, Twitter, and the rest of the Internet, the world is at my fingertips. Nothing is out of reach anymore.
The guiding question is, "What can our students do with technology that they couldn't do without it?" If you aren't asking that, you aren't using technology to expand and improve learning. You are just continuing to define teaching and learning as it's always been defined, and that's not understanding the potential for change.