A current trend in the field of Education revolves around technology and the innovations it promises and promotes. The use of computers, tablets and the Internet is now, more than ever, being critically considered and integrated within many classrooms across the province of Ontario.
The following are some thoughts and questions I have had in recent time, related to innovations in our learning spaces. In no way are they meant to be critical of others or reflective of the spaces I have or currently work within. Rather, my thinking is a result of consideration for the future – of teaching, of learning and of education.
Teaching and learning can obviously be impacted by increased access to technological resources, ICT integration and a demand for 21st century skills – but to what end? How do we quantify the data, the impact of innovative learning spaces, and begin to understand what these developments mean?
These thoughts leave us with questions when considering the role and impact of technology in our learning spaces: are we truly innovating by using the tools made available to us? Are teachers, administrators and other educational stakeholders breaking new ground or progressing at a typical rate? What should our success(es) look like and how should they be measured? Are we doing the right thing(s)? Are we #makingwaves?
Critical to this discussion is understanding that innovation is relative to the situation in which it exists. Just as Industrialization brought forth economic, social and technological change that was truly transformational for its time, the vibe in Ontario schools today mimics the awe of such progress as the power of “new and never-before-seen resources and tools” emerge. While laptops take the place of desktops, projectors clear room on the blackboard and ICT initiatives trump those rooted in conventional pedagogical designs, technology is now garnering as much attention in the classroom as it does at Future Shop or on the latest tech blog – these technologies aren’t new, so we must consider why. What is new is the way of thinking about teaching and learning, and how said technologies support gains made towards skills critical for success in the 21st century.
From what I see in schools, most are not ready for this change. This is not a criticism, but a a reality many are facing. In fact, innovation, in this regard, has little to do with the technology itself and more about building the of capacity where one is able to mobilize technology as an effective element of his or her pedagogical repertoire. Many comment that technology is a tool in the classroom, yet not much is heard (through my experiences) about how to go about using these tools – until now. Schools and the staff within them are beginning to take steps towards meaningful planning, integration and installation of technology. It is obvious that many are capable of making waves and can ride on their success, but we must consider the shifts made in generating these radical movements, for all.
Rather than coast in the wake of others’ movements, just as with technology itself, we must rise to the occasion, paddle out and generate enough momentum to carve our own path, stabilize ourself along the ride, as we make our own waves. Whether breaking at the sand or a monumental tidal, our efforts – no matter how big or small – should ultimately cause ripples in the waters of education, rocking the boats of conventional practice.
Measure success by the scale of your attempt and your ambition for change – think about the trying, the practicing, the doing. Make an impact my making it authentic, meaningful and innovative. Ultimately, consider #makingwaves by making sense about what matters.