Focus on Education
* MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITH THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL
from Bonnie Bracey
Teaching is one of the most demanding careers one can choose. Yet it can be also one of the most rewarding. Choosing to teach is choosing to make a difference in the lives of children--to help them learn to read, solve a math problem, or discover how plants grow.
Teaching is about conveying a love of learning and discovery, and giving children the tools they can use throughout their lives to make their own discoveries.Today's teachers must be ready to play a variety of roles in the classroom: educator, motivator, guide, counselor, coach, and disciplinarian.
Teachers must also be prepared for the demands on their time outside the classroom: grading papers, planning lessons, dealing with a myriad of administrative tasks.
Teachers must be prepared to work as part of a team, combining their efforts with colleagues, supervisors, and parents to create the best possible learning environment for their students. In addition, teachers must continually educate themselves--learning about new advances in education, new technologies, and new ways to inspire students to reach their full potential.
There are several new ways in which teachers can gain help with the practical applications that create wonderful learning landscapes in a school. Here are some of them.
MULTIMEDIA SCHOOLS MAGAZINE
The bridge to understanding for the use of technology is created when people who are all working on the same topic can find a place to go, resources that unite, join, question, and give some unity of thought, ideational scaffolding, ways of thinking together for those of us who are pioneering the use of technology in today's schools.
The editor has bravely altered the course of the magazine to creat a professional development vehicle, building bridges between classroom teachers and library/media specialists and technology coordinators, and administrators, on the common ground of information literacy and authentic learning. The editor is Ferdi Serim, the magazine is MultiMedia Schools , a practical how-to magazine that addresses multiple technologies used in K-12 schools today: CD-ROM, multimedia, online, and Internet resources. Articles, columns, news, and product reviews are contributed by practicing educators who use new technologies in the classroom and media center. You have to have copies of this magazine even if you just access it online.
There are other new ideas in teaching and learning as well.
Teaching Matters says it well."Technology use is complicated. No one can know it all? It is time to collaborate. And who are our colleagues in this part of the educational process - faculty, administrators and support people. The responsibilities of faculty, administrators and support staff couldn't be more different. But the goal - the education of students - is shared.
Understanding of these roles is critical to the successful use of technology.
Faculty want access to the technology they need and it must be reliable. They need adequate and available support people, both technical and instructional, for the inevitable problems and complications that using technology brings; and time to figure out how to incorporate it into existing courses and blend it with teaching styles.
Administrators have an eye on the university's mission and goals. They have the onerous task of justifying increasing technology expenditures at a time of limited resources.
Technical and instructional support people need to be up on the needs of both groups. They will become the mediators, explainers, and doers.
And a triumvirate is born. This calls for lots of communication and trust in various forms: mentoring, training, assistance, one-on-one is always best, though not always possible. Communication and enterprise are the foundations for successful collaboration.
Linda Darling Hammond says, "Teachers need to know about curriculum resources and technologies to connect their students with sources of information and knowledge that allow them to explore ideas, acquire and synthesize information, and frame and solve problems. And teachers need to know about collaboration--how to structure interactions among students; how to collaborate with other teachers; and how to work with parents to shape supportive experiences at school and home.
There is no longer a question about whether the new technology will be used in schools. Nearly everyone agrees that students must have access to computers, video, and other technology in the classroom. Many believe these technologies are necessary because competency in their use is an important feature of career preparation; others see equally important outcomes for civic participation. Most importantly, a growing research base confirms technology's potential for enhancing student achievement.
NCATE says"What is less certain is how and when these technologies will change the nature of schooling itself. For example, the technologies are already providing an alternative curriculum for students that is scarcely acknowledged by the formal school curriculum. Nevertheless, they have been mainly employed as additions to the existing curriculum. Teachers are employed who know how to use them, but knowledge of and skill in the use of technology has not been necessary for all teachers. These attitudes are surely short-sighted if technology infusion is to take root."
The introduction of computers and other technologies into schools is occurring at the same time that three decades of research in the cognitive sciences, which has deepened our understanding of how people learn, is prompting a reappraisal of teaching practices. We know from this research that knowledge is not passively received, but actively constructed by learners from a base of prior knowledge, attitudes, and values. Dependence on a single source of information, typically a textbook, must give way to using a variety of information sources. As new technologies become more readily available and less expensive, they will likely serve as a catalyst for ensuring that new approaches to teaching gain a firm foothold in schools.
Despite the technology changes in society, being a teacher in American schools too often consists of helping children and youth acquire information from textbooks and acting as an additional source of expertise. Teachers are provided role models of this approach to teaching from kindergarten through graduate school; their teacher education courses provide hints for making textbook-oriented instruction interesting and productive, and as teaching interns, they both observe and practice instruction based upon mastering information found in books.
is hearing a student say,
"Thank you for understanding me."