A couple of weeks ago, I was given an amazing opportunity as part of my role as a “Dell Dozen” member (aka an official Dell Ambassador) to attend a “Think Tank” at MIT (also sponsored by Dell). The topic? Technology in our education system. I admit that I’ve really only had brief fleeting thoughts about this topic before now, and after attending this, my whole vision has changed.
My brief fleeting thoughts about this topic first occurred at the beginning of the school year for me. As I mentioned in a previous post, my daughter’s school had a parent meeting for all the parents of 1st graders. I attended the meeting, and during it they discussed that 1) all school notes and newsletters were going to be delivered via email (yippie for me, as someone who HATES paper). 2) All homework assignments were going to be given out on a blog for all 1st grade classes. (yippie again!) and 3) That all math homework was going to be completed in an online program. (Yippie x3!!). It was a very exciting meeting for me! As someone obsessed with technology, I was excited that my daughter’s school was embracing technological tools to help get information out to parents, and to help them get their homework done. What amazed me at the meeting though, was some of the push back from other parents! I was shocked how some people were visibly upset by this turn of events. After attending this Think Tank, it’s a little more clear to me why that was the case, and what I need to do to help “bridge the technology gap”
This week, my experience at MIT and the thoughts and ideas that have come about from the experience is going to be the topic of most of the posts. It is also going to be the topic of my Google+ Hangout On Air this week (RSVP to attend here). I’ve got some great guests (Ben Rimes, the Tech Savvy Educator and high school student and author of “One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School” Nikhil Goyal) lined up to help me with the discussion.
So, Dell asked some very interesting questions in a recent survey. Check out their findings here. A couple questions that struck my attention were “Are teachers knowledgeable about technology?” and “Is there a place for social media in the classroom?”.
The first question about teachers was interesting to me, because I could see teachers that don’t understand technology being reluctant to incorporate technology into their lessons. I think, as with the rest of the world, some teachers are extremely knowledgeable about technology, while others probably can barely turn on a computer. While I understand that not everyone can be tech savvy, we all have different strengths, but we live in the digital age, and everyone (teachers included) HAS to be able to use technology. This is the point and purpose of my whole blog… bridging the technology gap. We can no longer sit back and let technology advance without us. We need to get involved and get to know the latest technology has to offer, so that not only can we utilize it to make our lives easier and broader, but so that we don’t get so far behind it’s impossible to catch up. You need to know more than your children (or students) about technology so you can teach them proper ways to use it.
The second question… I completely think that there is a place for social media in the classroom. Not only that, I see a purpose for individual devices in the classroom. I was at a blogging conference over the summer, and the panel would ask a question and we could all vote on the question with our phones by sending a text. We were able to look up at the screen and see real time results to those questions. I can see how this can be such a fun interactive way to do math problems and statistical equations within a classroom. It’s so much more fun to see then half the class raising their hands to answer a question (which may not even yield the correct result since some people may be embarrassed by their answers.)
Definitely check out Dell’s finding’s linked above, and get ready to join in the discussion with me this week. We’ll be chatting about it on the Google Hangout and on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #BeTechParents. I look forward to discussing with you!
Disclosure: I was invited to Boston by Dell who paid my travel expenses. This post was written as part of my involvement with the Dell Dozen.