Embarking on a Journey - Onward or Downward?

Will your new 1 to 1 (or 3 to 1) initiative land you at a new destination over the horizon, a land of milk and honey, blazing a path to learning and glory? Or, rather, will your ship sink into the ocean, full of heroic efforts that end in despair and lost resources?

"Achievement gains are more likely to emerge from innovative teaching, including individualized and problem-based instruction than from the deployment of laptop computers." (Larry Cuban as cited in The End of Techno-Critique)

It is a question Doug Johnson asks:
Even if try to ban or ignore or minimize student use of technology in our classrooms, it will still have an impact. Our children live in a technology-rich world and their habits, their learning styles, and their expectations are all being shaped by non-school environments. Do we stay relevant in kids lives?
OK, I am over my five minutes....
What would you say in five minutes to teachers embarking on a voyage to unknown places?
As I look forward to a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) journey, I don't know what I would say. I'd like to say something memorable, something phenomenal that will inspire a journey of a hundred leagues past the krakens, the gaps in cartography, the mysteries of the unknown. I might say something like this, trying to encourage them:
Today, we begin a journey. The journey doesn't begin because we have new technology in our hands. Rather, it begins because each of us has made a commitment to each other and our children. The commitment? That who we are, what we do, the time we spend will be bound to one purpose--teaching and learning in ways we have never done before, using methods we've only dreamt of, to transform how we create, communicate, problem-solve and collaborate with each other. 
But, as a technology director now, shy to speak, it's easy to write a blog entry of what I might say, like this:
When I was thirteen years old, my Dad bought me an Apple //e computer with a printer. My Mother asked him, "Why are you buying this computer for him? He will never grow up to be a programmer." Only a few years later, not having done any programming whatsoever on my computer, I taught a class to fellow teachers during my first year of teaching. I was called on to analyze test scores for the campus and make graphs. I made databases of student data, printing reports that were needed at the District level. Today, I am a technology director. I ask myself, "Why did my Dad buy that computer for me?" 
I share this story because when you enable children to use technology in your presence, when you show them that you stand in solidarity with learners everywhere, you free them from being children dependent on a parent. You empower them to learn, not only from you, but with you.
Now, I ask, "What can I do for my students that will transform their lives in the same way my father did for me so long ago with a $3000 computer?"  
As we begin this 1 to 1 initiative today, I have a question for you that a loving parent inspired me to ask: "What can I do for you that will transform your life as an educator?" And, I hope you, as a loving educator, will ask another question: "What can I do for my students that will transform their lives as human beings?"
Thank you for your time.
You know, sharing these personal stories is powerful. I like the personal story much more because it gives voice to the transformative power of what we've experienced.
"To publish is to make known." You know, as a writer, that's one of my favorite quotes. While I have held many jobs, writing has enabled me a thread of continuity, a way of chronicling the journey. I love words and douse myself with them frequently, hoping that an idea will spark and I'll be caught on fire.  
Yesterday, I saw a video on YouTube of children expressing themselves in ways I never imagined. They took a written story another child had written, then illustrated it with pictures and sound, publishing it as video. For me, the power of the word is all powerful. For them, the power of video to transform how they report their experiences, to share their journey, to create as well as solve problems, amplifies their voices. As we go forward into 1 to 1 initiative, you may be tempted to go "app crazy." You may find yourself wondering how to do more of the same with the technology you have. 
I challenge you to make known the work you do with children, to invite them to publish their ideas and thoughts--no matter the content--and stand next to them, not in front of, as a world responds.
Doug's blog post allows for 5 minutes. That's 3 minutes too long. Perhaps, 1 minute is all one needs. When they look in your eyes, will they see a fire burning bright or ashes grown grey with apathy?

source: http://goo.gl/63upB

Check out Miguel's Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


doug0077 said…
Hi Miguel,

Very heartfelt. I agree that any message to be effective has to have the personal element - the why this matters to ME and why it should to you. I had a similar empowering experience with a personal computer - but it was a school board, not a parent, who bought the device. (We only had rocks and sticks when I was a little boy growing up on the prairie.)

Great entry. Thank you,


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