"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Monday, 24 June 2013

Can you keep up with technology?

Image by smikeymikey1 at Big Stock Photos
I don't know about you but there have been some days lately when I wish I had another 5 hours in the day. Whilst we all appear to be screaming down the fast lane of life there is no reason why we can't enjoy the ride. For some people technology is a drag and something that is time consuming and unimportant but I find it fun and refreshing because there is always something new. Today I attended a professional development course to learn how to use the video editing software Adobe Premier Elements 11 and I sat next to a teacher librarian from a rural public school. He has only three years to go until retirement and he is totally immersed in technology. He teaches and encourages his students to be creative and play with technology and to use it to laugh and have fun. He is enthusiastic about his students even after 37 years of teaching and I was totally inspired by his attitude. 

Having spoken with quite a lot of teachers over the past few years face to face and via social media there seems to be 3 common themes that seem to be emerging for me out of these conversations. 

1. You need to use the tools you learn. You build upon skills as each new technology comes out and you adapt and develop the skills. 

2. It's OK to make mistakes. The great thing about computers and apps is that it's very hard to break them. (Unless of course your 7 year old comes out of his room with his doona over his head pretending to be a ghost and knocks your laptop off the table and smashes the screen!!) It's really important to play with new technology. There have been times when I have had students try and use technology and it has been more of a hindrance rather than a help. You have to be flexible enough to know when to quit and try something else. Shared learning experiences between teachers and students is beneficial both ways.  

3. There is a desire to share that has arisen through access to technology and the internet and classrooms are no longer isolated and insular but are part of a greater more global education community.  There will always be someone who takes your ideas and try to claim them as their own. Unfortunately that is the world we live in. The wonderful thing with social media and Professional Learning Networks that has arisen from social media is that there is a lot of sharing and giving of ideas and resources that comes from a selfless attitude and desire to help all students. As a profession teachers have always been generous with their time, intellectual property and experience and this is why teachers in their thousands are joining social media at a fast and growing rate. 
Image by PixelsAway at Big Stock Photos

So the question begs, can you keep up with technology? I think you can. You don't to spend a lot of money on gadgets and things to stay abreast of what is happening with technology and education in Australia and around the world. There are so many free education sites and apps that you would be hard pressed to say it's too hard to find out what's going on with education. We may be a big island in the ocean but Australia is far from isolated in terms of pushing quality teaching and learning. 

Teachers have been getting a rather bad wrap lately but if you look at the wealth and success of the banking industry, mining and tourism industries to name a few we are leading the world in these sectors and driving change and innovation. Our education system has a large part to play in this as the majority of the work force is made up of Australians who have been educated in Australia. We are no dummies and we are hard workers and through dedicated teachers and their desire to engage students in learning we need to celebrate those who drive and strive to adapt and use technology in their classrooms to teach, learn and skill the next generation. 

Image by PixelsAway at Big Stock Photos
For thousands of years teachers have taught students how to instruct, persuade, engage, inform and entertain
those they are communicating with using a variety of methods and skills and this technology generation is no different. After today's post PD thinking I have come to realise that it doesn't matter how old you are but whether or not you have the right attitude to learn and adapt to new technology. Yet again I come home from a Professional Development day fired in the belly to be creative and give my students the tools they need to be life long learners. Technology changes are fast and ever changing and I try and keep up one app, one piece of software or hardware at a time. You don't have to use everything but it never hurts to give it a go. 

Until next week,

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