Sunday, October 27, 2013

Limited Technology

Currently I'm working in a climate that limits tech use.

In order to use a new tech tool I have to go through a lengthy tech approval process which includes filling out a form, negotiating with a department, and following a number or rules. This process is very different from the way I believe tech is best used. I believe that tech should be used similar to the ways we have used books, materials, and strategies; when there's a student need, we should be able to find a tech resource to fill the need.

Since tech is changing all the time, I keep current by weekly interchanges with my dynamic PLN (Professional Learning Network). Their tweets, blogs, and presentations keep me up to date with what's happening in the tech world, and I employ and discard tools accordingly. Similarly I let my students curate too--I don't stick with tools that are dull, boring, and uninspiring unless the impact far outweighs a child's frustration which once in a while that may happen. I typically look for tools that are educational, engaging, and responsive to individual and collective needs.

Why do I share this?

First, I want the families I serve to know that I'm limited in this way.  I will continue to share my tech research with families and others so they can access apt tools at home to further their children's learning if the potential occurs.

Next, I will continue to use approved tech at school, but I won't be able to quickly introduce the exciting new games and learning venues as I have done in the past--the kind that keep learning fresh and exciting.

After that, there will be a bit of back-stepping, for better or worse, to more paper/pencil.

Rather than a cumbersome form-filling-out process, I'd rather see tech, tools, and programs readily chosen and shared using a protocol, rather than a lengthy form process.

For example, recently a well-loved program was shut down due to disagreement with a game and an avatar. A protocol may have prevented us in the first place for choosing that game as the protocol could have specified avatar appropriateness--what to accept, and what not to accept. Similarly a protocol could specify the types of games we approve as an organization and the types of games we don't approve. A protocol like this will take time to debate and create, but the process would be educational to all, and the end result could mean that we could employ tech in responsive, timely ways to best educate children today.

For many, tech is still feared.  For me, I continue to see tech as a dynamic resource allowing greater accessibility, engagement, and success when it comes to learning.  I agree that there are aspects of tech that can be hurtful, and I believe that rather than limit, we should teach children how to navigate the waters of technology by teaching them what to avoid, how to react to tech troubles, and the ways to use technology to benefit learning and life.

As I always say, I am one voice. I don't have all the answers, and I welcome your feedback and response. The more we transparently and openly discuss, debate, and decide about tech use in today's world, the better we'll be able to use technology to live a good life and develop a positive world.