The past week flew by in a blur as I gave and attended workshops. First, I gave the school-based technology boot camp written about earlier, which was nicely followed by a full day with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Sheryl’s presentation on the connected learner clearly articulated the need for pedagogical change and a focus on digital literacies.
The next two days I spent delivering half-day workshop on Writing to Learn with Technology. During these sessions I introduced ways that teachers could implement strategies from Angela Peery’s Writing Matters in Every Classroom and Daniels, Zemelman and Steineke’s Content Area Writing using a variety of technology tools.
The focus was primarily on Word as we recently implemented Office 2010 and teachers are as of yet unfamiliar with the changes that make it extremely easy to use for Writing to Learn strategies as well as to format and create quality documents. I also suggested online tools and iOS apps that could be used. The travelling set of iPads was available for anyone who wanted to experiment with an app and I was able to demonstrate apps with a second project and an Apple TV.
We have two schools in our division going one-to-one with iPads this year and several teachers had brought their iPads with them. It was a learning experience for us all as we delved into Pages and discovered what an amazing word processing app it is.
Teachers were engaged during the presentation and the exit slips that were emailed to me indicated that they enjoyed the day and learned several Writing to Learn strategies and useful tech tips. Many indicated that they enjoyed the session because they did not feel overwhelmed.
I contrast that with some of the feedback that I received about the Tech Boot Camp and the Sheryl’s connected learner presentation. “Overwhelming”, “our students aren’t ready”, “not all our students have devices nor access”, “we need to teach the basics”, “I don’t have time”, “I need to teach the curriculum” were comments that I heard.
Perhaps I am being presumptuous but underlying all the comments the subtext that I heard is “this makes me uncomfortable”, “change scares me”.
I enjoyed preparing for and delivering the Writing to Learn Using Technology workshop because it is always delightful to provide teachers with supports that they can immediately use.
However, I will also continue to make teachers feel uncomfortable. Will Richardson has said, “If you’re comfortable with education today, then you’re not paying attention,” and we need to be paying attention to the influences that social media and technology are having on teaching and learning. The pending changes are immense.