Lead, keep up, or acknowledge

Cindy retired from the school district last year and now works on consulting projects and with the university. One of her activities at the University involves teaching a section of the “Technology for Teachers” class. For whatever reason, yesterday, she decided to send a letter to her colleagues who teach the same course about the present activities involving technology in the district from which she retired. The message, I think, was that we need to be aware of what is going on out there. There must be some connection to practice that I have described as “lead, keep up, or acknowledge”. In other words, there needs to be some connection between the preparation of teachers and the world these students will soon enter. Clearly, this connection does not necessarily require acceptance of everything that goes on, but the idea is encourage teachers to understand and think through what will soon be their work environment.

I think such connections might be described as questions:

  • What are teachers doing with technology?
  • What aren’t teachers taking advantage of that should be available to them?
  • What are teachers doing with technology that is misguided and why?

Her letter ended up being circulated outside of the group for which it was originally intended and so I decided to do the same.

Good Afternoon,
I had a chance to spend time in the GF Schools this week and wanted to make you aware of some applications being used in the district.

Grand Forks is/has:

  • Adopted Google Apps for Education for collaborative documents, presentations, spreadsheets and form creation.
  • Studied a one-to-one adoption of student devices (presently piloting ASUS Netbooks in Community High School, Red River High School, Central High School, Valley Middle School, Twining Middle School and Elementary, Winship Elementary, Lake Agassiz, and Wilder Elementary). These computer are running Ubuntu Linux operating system.
  • Used many cloud apps such as Voicethread, flickr, Animoto, Glogster, Corkboard, Today’s Meet, Wikispaces, PBWorks, etc.
  • Engaged students in blogging and learning to embed other apps in their blogs as well as work with gadgets and avatars
  • Students are collaborating with schools throughout the world using Skype and collaborative environments.
  • A switch is being made to using Chrome and accessing the Web Store
  • Students are using flip cameras, digital cameras and digital microscopes (some wireless)
  • There are pockets of iPod and iPad projects.
  • There are approximately 200 interactive whiteboards.
  • K-12 Social Studies is in an adoption cycle and they are looking at all digital materials.
  • All teachers applicants apply online, subs are obtained online, classified staff clock in online, IEPs are written online, professional development is registered for online, grades, scheduling and attendance are online, etc.

I think some of these initiatives should influence what we teach in our Technology for Teachers class.