Welcome to blog post #1! I am excited to start challenging myself on the big ideas in education. I want to critically examine some of the ideas we take for granted and find ways to to consolidate my philosophy and all of the new information I will gather along my road to becoming a teacher. Never stop learning and always question, that is my motto. I propose we think about how we are using all the teaching resources out there, and whether or not are offering students purposeful learning. https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/03/13/00/53/kids-playing-1253096_960_720.jpgwe
There is probably no better way to dive in than to start with a critical consideration of technology and its role in education. Since this is such an enormous topic I wanted to just focus on one area and it is technology and the outdoors! Would that they could design technology (that is affordable) that could be used anywhere without fear of damage, and alas you could skip this blog post altogether. However, here we sit with not enough kids getting outside and all the problems that arise from plopping down in front of a screen for hours. Yet here we are talking about more technology. We don’t talk about more suitable technology, but more technology!
I better get this out right now so here goes, I think technology will eventually solve a lot of our problems. Technology saves lives, technology is a world of ideas at your fingertips, technology is communication and investigation. I think technology is the way forward. The generations ahead of us will never know a world without technology and if they can master technology they can do anything. Well now, its out there, I am a technology advocate. However….
Let me tell you a story. We (me and my two adorable and highly capable daughters) we running errands one day. I had forgotten my cell phone at home, as is the norm I am afraid. When we finished our shopping I pulled up to the front of my house and my car rang! My Bluetooth had connected from the cell phone in the house across the yard and onto the street where I park. I was amazed! Now to be fair I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to technology but that moment made me realize that I was steps away from living under a rock. It was time to pull up my techno socks! Technology is amazing and should be learned and used by educators, but a balance needs to be struck and we need to find authentic tasks to give these amazing children that sit in our classrooms.
All too often you see children playing fairly simplistic games on computers, or perusing pictures or ads, checking out the latest and greatest YouTube rabbit hole. Meanwhile these kids who could easily surpass any of us with their tech savvy have not engaged in any tangible learning and one could question whether or not any critical thinking has occurred. So we can have children build a digital community, or a digital game depicting biodiversity, but have we taught them how real organisms interact? Have we made it possible for all types of connections to be formed? Have we engaged both their bodies and minds in learning that can be transferred to technology, but perhaps, not the other way around? As outlined in the Teaching Quality Standard Applicable to the
Provision of Basic Education in Alberta by the Ministerial Order (#016/97) section 3h keeping up to date with technology is integral to outcomes in learning. A teacher needs to be aware of new technologies and integrate them to provide the best possible level of engagement and the ability of the students to demonstrate their learning in their best way.
I propose we start considering how and why we are constantly advocating for more technology, if we can answer those questions we are probably heading in the right direction. In a world in which kids are losing touch with the earth that we all share we should be advocating for more connections, however the connections must not come in only one form. It is necessary for the education community and the student body to consider both sides of the coin.
I hope to see a well designed, well used outdoor classroom at every school in Canada one day. It is my hope that we can go outside and discover and investigate and be inspired to use technology to solve problems, to create pathways to using technology in authentic tasks that will bring people more in touch with the big issues. It is my hope that we can use technology everyday, maybe even outdoors in lessons that begin with the goal of purposeful learning. Lets get those kids outside, measuring trees for math, and shadows for seasons in science. Let us have them record rainfall, and wind speed. Lets have conversations about soil health, let’s have students record their data and share it around the world. Lets send messages and receive feedback from the experts!
One of the ways in which we might accomplish these gigantic tasks is through the idea of that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD https://education.alberta.ca/media/3115434/byod-tech-briefing.pdf). The Alberta Government has published the linked document that discusses the possibilities and the challenges of students bringing their own devices into the classroom. I have to say from an environmental and economical point of view I love the idea! I do agree with the publication that it will not be without its challenges and we will need to offer the teachers some well equipped “tool kits” to ensure the most positive outcomes. I like the idea of making the BYOD idea work in today’s classrooms, imagine a child who is deeply immersed in an investigation about some fascinating (subjectively of course:) thing or another, and that child being able to take that investigation home and continue exploring and linking, and learning. The child will immediately be able to share with their family what they are learning. What a great thing!