"Whether you think you can, or think you can't - you're right." ~ Henry FordTechnology provides new opportunities for teaching and learning that were previously not possible and are just downright 'cool'. I love exploring possibilities and seeing how my students might utilise new technologies to enhance their learning. I've come to realise however that my own enthusiasm can, at times, be a double-edged sword.
I came to this rather startling realisation at about two in the morning one school night as I was learning how to use a new virtual space that I wanted to use with a particular class. Earlier that day, during a collaborative planning session, a teaching team was discussing how students might hold an art exhibit as a part of the summative assessment for an inquiry into how we express ourselves. Of course, I piped up and thought out loud, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could have a virtual exhibit for the students to share their digital creations as well? We could also film or photograph their other pieces (dance, music, paintings, sculptures, etc) and share them in this space so family and friends in other places could view their work!" Very keen to see what might be available and how it might work, I set about my explorations as soon as I got home from work. When I finally looked up and saw the time, I had to seriously ask myself, why am I doing this?
|Image: No Frustration by SFoerster on Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0|
So often I hear teachers say things like, 'I'd like to use technology, but so often it doesn't work and I end up wasting a whole lesson. We just don't have that kind of time.' Or, during a lesson when something doesn't work, throwing up their hands in frustration and abandoning the lesson. I've balked at this in the past, becoming frustrated myself with the attitude of helplessness that is being demonstrated, often in front of students. And yet, when I look in the mirror, I've just done the same thing myself. While I might have a growth mindset when it comes to integrating technology in teaching and learning, I don't think I am doing a very good job in sharing this with others. Or more importantly, talking about why it is such a critical element of being a technologically literate person.
At the end of the day, it is true we might not cover all of the material we intended to with our students, but we need to value what they will learn instead. I'm quite confident that the content of the lesson I had planned is not nearly as important to my students as having them understand they are capable problem solvers and with perseverance can solve the challenges they encounter. It's those times when the technology doesn't work that you have the greatest opportunity for learning. Yes, it was super cool to have our art displayed in a virtual gallery, but at what cost.