In a comment to my recent rant about seeing little impact from technology in the classroom, Mark believes I am.
He mentions several schools in our overly-large system and then says
I can’t speak intelligently about other schools, but while these schools may not fit the model of instruction (or is it technology integration) that you wish for, these are schools where teachers (sometimes led by their instructional technology specialists) are posing and attempting to answer questions along the lines of: how do we best provide a learning environment for our students and how do we assess our success and our students’ success? And the metric is not simply state test results or AYP results. I would argue that wholesale changes are happening in the way teachers view their curricula and their role in it.
I know there are schools, the ones he lists among them, where some teachers are trying to make changes to the traditional classroom practice.
And many more of them certainly understand that their role is being altered by many different forces. I would, however, challenge the use of the term “wholesale” when it comes to any changes in the way high schools work.
But I realize my observations in high school classrooms are limited to only three or four (including one of those Mark notes) and are usually very brief snapshots.
As I noted in a discussion about the use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms, I would love to be proved wrong in my skepticism. I want to see technology being used in wonderful ways to help kids learn.
I want to see some classrooms that will demonstrate just how mistaken my ranting really is. In the case of the whiteboards, I’m still waiting but still open minded.
Mark continues his comment by touching on an issue that is a huge road block to any meaningful change for high schools everywhere, not just in our system.
I would agree that if curriculum areas were less strictly partitioned from each other, there would be more opportunities to learn across a swath of disciplines, but I don’t see that kind of change happening anytime soon.
The compartmentalization of knowledge, which extends into most universities as well, is totally counterintuitive to how information is used in the real world. In the digital age, that disparity is only becoming more pronounced every day.
He’s right that the situation will probably remain the same for the near term but until the traditional curriculum is drastically modified, it will be difficult to make other alterations.
And then Mark makes this statement with which I totally disagree.
Finally, technology is but one spoke in the wheel. It’s just a tool, nothing more than leverage, a force multiplier for what you’re already doing.
The powerful tools we now have available make it possible to go way beyond simple reinforcing what we’re already doing. They provide communications links that enable teachers and students to connect with and learn from the world.
If all we do with the computers and networks put in our schools over the past decade is multiply the status quo, then we’ve wasted a lot of money, time and effort.
I know much of the crap I write is very idealistic, maybe even unrealistic. But while we are making small incremental changes, it would be nice to keep a vision of what education could and should be in the viewfinders.
As to Mark’s closing crack about Macs and ICF filters, I’ll save that for another rant. :-)