Posted by battaglj on February 14, 2009
It comes as no surprise that academic circles today stress the uses of technology. It would be a fair estimate to say that when packing for college, the average student could conceivably tie all of their luggage together with the various power cables needed to charge all of the gadgets one simply must have for a happy dorm-room life. Aside from the games, toys, and navigable devices we accumulate, certainly our lives do depend on technology to a large extent. From business to education, it is of vital importance that we are preparing our students for a technological world.
The web 2.0 is stretching into the classroom in fascinating ways. Many of the Universities have kept up with the game. As a Graduate student in Education, I have certainly seen blogging, wikis, social networking, podcasting, twittering, and a host of other web oriented interactive tools thrust to the forefront of the classroom. It is a very exciting time in both arenas. However, the educational field has only embraced these technologies at the university level. True, elementary and secondary schools are skipping to the technological beat, but only on the surface.
As any new, prospective teacher can tell you, you won’t get through an interview without a conversation about how you plan to implement technology into the classroom. While the administrations around the country do want their teachers to be technologically competent, they do not actually want you to implement anything beyond a power point presentation. Anything else would simply make waves. As we all know, if the administrative boat is a rocking…
…YOU ARE FIRED.
I know, not as friendly an ending as I would like either. But really, it is not far from the truth. Why such a knee jerk reaction? Quite simply, time and money. For one it costs money to educate people properly. In my district, they are working with a new curriculum. One of the major new implements concerns new technologies such as blogging. We, many teachers aren’t quite sure what this means. Really, what they need is a day or two to be in-serviced. The next question is, on whose watch. Many of the news technologies are not being used, simply because people do not know how. You would think that as educators, when we come across something unknown or unfamiliar, it would be a natural reaction to learn and familiarize ourselves. Instead, we choose to fear the unknown, become skeptical and soon just become opponents. Why is that?
The other reaction I have seen is the ostrich response. Stick your head in the sand and pretend things do not exist. Well, putting blinders on doesn’t do anybody any good. Again, why aren’t more teachers being trained in these new web 2.0 applications, time and money.
Another unbelievable aspect of this, fear. At the school I am currently in, the powers that be will only authorize one blog site. Edublogs are screened, meaning there are words that when they are typed in, become flagged and blocked. Basically, people are monitoring the content. Well, that is fine. But, I soon learned that the students are not to VIEW any other kind of blog. Do they realize that almost every college now uses blogs. Almost every major news source does the same. We would be doing our kids a major injustice if we did not expose them to the blogging world. We would be doing our future citizens a major injustice if we do not implement the uses of web 2.0 technologies in our schools. Rather than fear what we don’t understand, can we not come to know what we once did not?
Finally, I hope that this is a passing phase in the technological shift. My prediction, is that in five years, most high schools will be using blogs and social networks to keep students up to date on homework and handouts, on events and schedules, library databases and athletic events. The implications are unimaginable. We have only begun to tap into the importance of interactive technology in education. It is time we back up our words. Embrace what is available to us. Support those who use it, knowing we are all working to make a better tomorrow. We should be educating concerned parents by alleviating fears and misnomers. We should be empowering current teachers by supporting their technological endeavors. Our teachers need more support than what we are being given. We stand on the precipice of an exciting time. Hopefully, we can make technological strides forward in the educational realm, together.