Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The More Things Change, The More They Change!

Welcome to the new location of Digital Eyes! Like all everything in life, things change. As our blog server goes away, it was time to migrate my blog to a new place. I hope you like it and continue to come and read. I am always open to suggestions. If you have an idea about how I can improve the site, please let me know.

To kick off my new location, I thought it was appropriate to post about change. Just as we are changing our blog locations, we are also changing our district website, moving to Office 2010 and 2011, and putting student response devices in the hands of every student. This makes for a very busy summer and an even busier fall. I hear often from frustrated teachers about the rapid rate of change. It's not just technology either. Initiatives on formative assessments, data- driven decision making, cultural proficiency, professional learning teams, new curriculum also are underway.

Teachers are frustrated because it is increasingly difficult to keep up with all this change. I'm frustrated because it is difficult to implement effective change with so much change happening at once. Teachers used to say, just wait and the pendulum will swing back. When it comes to changes in technology and digital literacy, it is hard to argue that the pendulum will swing back.

*Image credit: http://www.disabledparents.net/crib.html

For me, as I look at all the change that is taking place, I try to find the linch pin, the thing that holds it all together. Of course, this is a matter of perspective. Literacy people will find literacy at the center of all learning, data wonks will find assessment and data at the center. For me, the changes brought about by technology are at the center. We can only collect and analyze data effectively if we have the technical skills to use the tools that will allow us to do so seamlessly. Using student response systems, data mining software, and online collaborative tools make it possible to collect the data quickly, easily, and accurately while also allowing us to sift through the data and communicate with others from anywhere at anytime. Without these skills, the data becomes too cumbersome and it interferes too much with our instruction.

As it pertains to literacy, technology has redefined what it means to be literate. Multimedia, hyperlinking, online content, instant searches, online collaboration all are changing how we read, what we read, whether or not we read (as opposed to listening, viewing, etc...)

If we focus on digital literacy skills and technology skills, we will empower both our teachers and students to take advantage of the tools around them to better implement the other changes we have in place.

Never before have teachers had more opportunities to learn these skills. Our 3 day Summer Tech Institute will offer 50 classes on everything from Responsible Use to Google Apps to iPods/iPads in the Classroom. With over 500 teachers signed up so far, it is a great start to our school year. In addition, we have a calendar of classes being offered multiple times and places throughout the year. Teachers can login and pick the classes they want at the times they want. Finally, we will continue to offer online classes for those who want the flexibility of logging in whenever, wherever they want.

I sincerely hope that teachers will take advantage of these opportunities and embrace the changes in education. Their students will appreciate it and their long term job security may depend upon it. But most of all, teaching with technology and teaching the skills most essential for 21st century success is fun, challenging, and exciting!

And if you don't like it. Just wait. It will change again!