Earlier this week, after helping a colleague with a problem, I was asked an odd question I get far too often: "How do you keep up with all of this?". It’s meant as a compliment, of course, and my response is usually some vague reference to practicing a lot.
Lately, however, the voice inside my head has its own response, something along the lines of "What do you mean ‘keep up’? I’m not ‘keeping up’! I’m falling behind!". Maybe I’m just suffering from information overload, but I continually have this feeling that the more I learn, the more I’m missing.
Those two conversations, with the colleague and myself, popped into my head as I drove home this afternoon listening to the latest podcast of Ed Tech Coast To Coast. As part of their discussion about student access to technology, Steve, Will and Tim Wilson tossed around the issue of the "digital divide".
Much has been written about the inequity of the availability of computers and communications tools between different schools. However, the digital divide between teachers exists even in technology rich schools. As Will points out, there are many teachers who have no idea of the power and potential already sitting in their own classrooms.
So, is it possible to help these teachers move faster in their understanding of how to best use what they have – maybe before the next wave of innovation hits? I agree with Will that it’s going to be difficult to impossible as the gap continually widens.
That’s not a slam on teachers. My pessimism is based on the current structure of our educational system. Nothing in most school classrooms is going to change unless there is a genuine need to change.
Right now, the prevailing opinion among those driving school reform is that we can improve learning without alterations to the framework of the system.
However, the communications tools being discussed here have the power to offer students authentic experiences in collecting, organizing and using information. Tapping that power demands major changes to our approach to teaching and learning.
Tim sums up this situation very well with a quote from a business publication: "Every system is perfectly designed for the results it achieves". Unfortunately, that defines American education perfectly.
Anyway, there is much more to their conversation and the podcast is well worth 40 minutes of your time. Now, I’m off to see if I can shake this feeling that I’ve been missing something important while writing this post.