Does Our Current Education System Support Innovation?

| July 17, 2012 | 35 Comments
  • Email Post

Flickr:Flickingerbrad

By Aran Levasseur

Innovation is the currency of progress. In our world of seismic changes, innovation has become a holy grail that promises to shepherd us through these uncertain and challenging times. And there isn’t a more visible symbol of innovation than the iPad. It’s captured the hearts and minds of disparate subcultures and organizations.

In education it’s been widely hailed as a revolutionary device, promising to transform education as we know it. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as bulk purchasing iPads and deploying them into the wilds of education. Innovation can’t be installed. It has to be grown — and generally from the margins.

The profusion of digital technology at work, home and everywhere in between is evident to even the most causal observer. In this climate, it’s understandable why many schools are interested in technological integration and innovation. While it seems clear that students will increasingly be expected to be adept at using digital tools in their professional and personal lives, there isn’t great clarity on how exactly these tools should be used. Often visions and goals are nebulous — if they exist at all. We can’t just buy iPads (or any device), add water, and hope that strategy will usher schools to the leading edge of 21st century education. Technology, by itself, isn’t curative. Human agency shapes the path.

We can’t just buy iPads (or any device), add water, and hope that strategy will usher schools to the leading edge of 21st century education.

In light of this dynamic, two critical questions need to be asked and provisionally answered when integrating technology into education. The first question, while obvious at first glance, isn’t always fully articulated: “What are the educational goals of technology integration?”

The second question is equally important and often more elusive: “Do the current systems and processes support the integrative and innovative goals?”

Adapting Teaching To Technology

The answer to the first question — about the goals of technology integration — often orbits around 21st century skills. The problem is that most of the curriculum within schools today is distinctly tied to the 20th century. The first phase of technology integration usually focuses on the transition from an analog to a digital environment, but after that happens, the use of technology raises deeper pedagogical questions.

The best schools throughout history prepared their students for the social and economic realities of their time. Our system of universal education was designed to meet the social and economic needs of the industrial revolution, which was defined by a world of standardization. While the industrial revolution has been added to the annals of history, our system of education has not.

The social and economic world of today and tomorrow require people who can critically and creatively work in teams to solve problems. Technology widens the spectrum of how individuals and teams can access, construct and communicate knowledge. Education, for the most part, isn’t creating learners along these lines. Meanwhile, computers are challenging the legitimacy of expert-driven knowledge, i.e., of the teacher at the front of the classroom being the authority. All computing devices — from laptops to tablets to smartphones — are dismantling knowledge silos and are therefore transforming the role of a teacher into something that is more of a facilitator and coach.

This isn’t to say that teachers are becoming obsolete. Great teachers are needed now more than ever. But what it means to be a teacher and student is changing — as it has throughout history. The main point is that technology is helping to drive a pedagogical change, and schools need to be mindful of this influence and thoughtful of how they’d like to facilitate this transition. This is why linking technology to learning objectives is so important. Otherwise, schools could find themselves in a position where the cart (technology) is before the horse (pedagogy).

Does Our Current System Support Innovation?

Answers to the second question (Do the current systems and processes support the integrative and innovative goals?) are rarely offered because the question is seldom asked.

Uncertainty and experimentation are perceived as a waste of time within the current model because there is curriculum that needs to be covered and tests that need to be taken within a prescribed schedule.

The organization of schools — their systems, processes and values — were deliberately designed to accomplish specific objectives. Departments, 50-minute classes, bells, rows of desks, lectures, textbooks, standardized tests, and grades are all aspects of schools’ organizational structure that were conceived to train students in the image of industrial society. Within this model, standardization and mass production rule supreme.

The systems and values of industrial education were not designed with innovation and digital tools in mind. Innovation, whether it’s with technology, assessment or instruction, requires time and space for experimentation and a high tolerance for uncertainty. Disruption of established patterns is the modus operandi of innovation. We like the fruits of innovation, but few of us have the mettle to run the gauntlet of innovation.

Innovation from the Margins

Because integration and innovation with technology can be so disruptive to established systems, innovation is more likely to take root if it is grown on the margins. The margin can be a small percentage of class time that’s carved out each week for experimentation, or it can be a technology incubator designed to function beyond the conventional boundaries of school systems.

Wherever the appropriate margin is identified for technological innovation, the climate within the margin needs to be such that teachers and students are supported in exploring the edges of uncertainty. This is critical because uncertainty and experimentation are perceived as a waste of time within the current model because there is curriculum that needs to be covered and tests that need to be taken within a prescribed schedule. One can’t begin to have more time and space for innovating in class unless one loosens the reigns on traditional objectives and creates more flexibility and leverage within classrooms and schools.

This is easier said than done. To varying degrees we’ve all come through the traditional model of education that has trained us to seek certainty. Combine that with the fact that we are wired to look for negative information — and uncertainty would definitely fit into the negative category for most of us — and we have a compound society that is increasingly risk averse. Yet without taking risks, we can’t have breakthroughs.

Learning environments of the future are in incubation. And therein lies the challenge: Learning environments that don’t exist can’t be analyzed. Moving into the unknown requires a pioneering spirit. Helen Keller reminds us that is the truth of not only our age, but of all ages: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Aran Levasseur taught middle school history and science for five years, where he integrated technology into his classes to enhance his teaching and student learning and is currently the Academic Technology Coordinator at San Francisco University High School. You can follow him @fusionjones on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on MediaShift, which covers the intersection of media and technology. Follow @PBSMediaShift for Twitter updates, or join us on Facebook.

Related

Explore: , , ,

  • Email Post
  • TeacherEd

    If you want innovation, come to Alexandria City Public Schools in Northern Virginia. The school system has a yearly “Dreamfund” which encourages teachers to apply for awards up to $5000 for “creative, innovative, outside the box ideas” to employ in their classrooms. Winners in the past have received ipads, apple tvs with flat screen televisions to use the mirroring option on the ipads, ballet class, sensory stimulation rooms for children with autism, and so on. The superintendent, Dr. Morton Sherman, strongly supports this program and the applications for awards on growing exponentially each year. 

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      The Dreamfund sounds like a remarkable program. I hope more districts across the country follow in Alexandria City Public Schools footsteps.

  • Mary McNabb

    Many teacher do not adapt teaching to technology because they do not know how to. They do not use Web 2.0 for their own learning and so cannot conceive of how to use it to teach. Until the number of teachers familiar enough with technology reaches a tipping point, our systems won’t support the use of technology because society will not allow the educational system to be replaced by methods it is not familiar with and results that cannot be quantified. Teachers who are learning to adapt their teaching to technology will need to be leaders in teaching parents other teachers and administrators as well as developing methods for assessing student learning to satisfy society’s desire for accountability. Only when society sees a viable replacement for our present system will our system support innovation. Of course, then it will no longer be innovation . . .

    • Gerald Ardito

      Mary,

      I have certainly seen what you are talking about in my school.
      I have also found that some of the lack of adaptation is really about the need to change the methods of teaching in order to allow the technology to make a big difference.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Clegg/1660276870 Robert Clegg

      I think the role of content creator also has a tremendous amount to do with this. Everyone hailed interactivity and animation when it first came out in the late 80′s but teachers didn’t custom animate their lessons. Then PowerPoint simplified things and all of a sudden every lesson was going to be professionally created with custom graphics. But that didn’t happen either. iPads are no different. Without great content they really won’t be used appropriately. Most of us are not content creators.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Visionary leadership and training are vital. Hopefully education arrives at a tipping point soon.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Visionary leadership and training are vital. Hopefully education arrives at a tipping point soon.

  • Chris Parsons

    I am uneasy when ’21st Century Skills’ are referred to as if they should be replacing ’19th/20th Century Skills’ when in fact all they are actually doing is supplementing them. The industrial age hasn’t gone, and won’t be going any time still. However many people work in information industries, or as innovative leaders in other industries, the majority will continue to be employed in traditional work places doing traditional jobs. I do not see any imminent end to needing people in farming, building, engineering, retail, cleaning etc. etc. Whilst any of us potentially COULD be entrepreneurs, pioneers, dot.com millionaires etc, the majority of us can’t actually be and education needs to continue to prepare children for the world of necessity as much as for the world of opportunity. The 3 ‘Rs’ are still needed as much as the fabulous new 3 ‘Cs’, and the citizens of the future will still have to be able to apply themselves diligently and pro-actively to a task which may not involve an engaging interface or be their favoured choice of activity.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Clearly traditional skills shouldn’t be replaced. But they should be transcended and included into a more comprehensive framework that is formatted for our time…As for large numbers of people still working in manufacturing, it just doesn’t hold up to the data. 30 percent of American’s worked in manufacturing in the 50s. Now it’s 10 percent. For one of the factors driving this trend I suggest reading Race Against the Machine: http://amzn.to/IaEYc8

      • Mrsldoll

        I agree manufacturing jobs are declining in the America, and the few that are left are usually highly technical. According to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative the four out of five jobs are now in the service industry, which is 68% of our GDP. Chris has a valid point we still need our 19th/20th century skills. We cannot turn our backs on our past. We must learn from it.  Your article made the point the innovation starts at the margins. It does for good reason. Turning a school upside down with dramatic change only causes distress to students and results in parents, teaches and administrators to dig their heels in to resist change, as R. Craigen’s example above with the open schools.  That does not mean we cannot embrace technology.  We must carefully plan and train so we can teach the most important part of learning, the “basics” using technology as a tool and not as a replacement. That is why the margin is an important part of the process. It is there that we can test to see what works best and what we should ignore. It is the place where teachers share with other teachers about their technology successes and failures and can bring that information to the administrators and the boards. It may be a slow process but working from the top down is just as slow with bureaucratic red tape and political stalemate. Once a technique or theory is proven to work it sparks a fire that spreads quickly. Yet, we cannot forget, that from time to time, our teachers and student need turn off the technology and to communicate verbally. We need to write or draw on a pad of paper and use our own memories.  Ancient man built the Great Pyramids and did so without calculators and computers. Our students have just as much potential.

  • Gerald Ardito

    I appreciate that you are speaking about learning environments and how they can be improved/enhanced/innovated via powerful uses of technology.

    I worry a great deal that much of the conversation about educational technology falls into either the “cool tools” or “value added” arenas.

    In my experience as a teacher, technologies of various sorts (blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, video and audio production, robotics, etc.) can be sued to BOTH enhance learning as well as reshape the learning environment in the direction of students being more engaged and accountable for their learning.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      I agree. Much of the buzz around technology is orientated around engagement and the cool factor. While this is an important aspect, it’s just the beginning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Clegg/1660276870 Robert Clegg

    I’d like to see an outline/discussion of these “deeper pedagogical issues”. The cart before the horse is the issue of content not technology. Technology with no content is useless. I haven’t seen a discussion of the future of content that is so radical from just plain text books put on to computers. Adaptive learning is a buzz word for process efficiency – that’s still an industrialized model. You are just making the production line more efficient. 

    Innovation happens when new content and pedagogy create a greater outcome, a 21st century outcome.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Content is definitely important. What do you think the content of the future consists of?

      • Anonymous

        “Content of the future”.  Oh, that’s supposed to cause everyone to reconsider their thoughts isn’t it?  Yes, there are new things to learn in the future, but in math for example, basic facts, skills and procedures must still be mastered.  And please don’t tell me the calculator is replacing the need for learning the basics.  I have tutored and now teach, and the inability of some students to do the simplest computation without a calculator is greatly disturbing.

        Teaching students general problem solving skills like mixture, work, distance/rate and number problems still are needed, but the argument against doing this is that “Students don’t find them relevant” and/or “They are not 21st century skills.”  If students are taught how to solve problems and are given good guidance and hints to help them when they get stuck, they generally don’t care if they’re relevant or not.  It’s like saying baseketball is not relevant to one’s survival; kids still like to play it.  And as for these problems not representing 21st century skills, they do.  The 21st century will require mastery of the same math skills needed in the 20th century. 

      • R. Craigen

        Apparently, Aran,  you think you know something of the “content of the future”.  Well, I am a university Math professor and I deal very much with preparing students for technological and professional careers in this future of which you speak.  

        I can tell you that North American students are not competing well for graduate studies programs because of their over-reliance on technology and their failure to have mastered the basics of math.  Go to any department in Math, Science or Engineering and do some simple demographics on the grad students there.  You’ll find that there is stiff competition by students from Asia, Africa and the middle east, from countries where paper-and-pencil skills are held in high esteem, and the continuum of mathematical development from K to 12 is still regarded as inviolable.
        Whether you inject a technological patina over the basic education in math or not, the essential content of higher education has not changed a great deal since the Ancient Greeks focussed on what they called the Trivium and Quadrivium:  Arithmetic, Geometry, Logic, Grammar, Rhetoric, Astronomy, Music.  And you think that a bunch of electronic toys are going to suddenly change the landscape?  Knowledge is a pyramid; the foundation must be broad, and consist of absolutely elemental pieces.  You cannot jump to the third floor and say, “Oh, who needs to waste time on those silly “rote” algorithms of arithmetic.  Pooh, pooh, we have the tools to go straight to understanding.No.  We don’t.  And the illusion of understanding and mastery these lovely toys provide is seductive and dangerous.  First children need a foundation — the same foundation they’ve needed for ages.  Technology can play a role in providing comfort and stimulation in the classroom.  But let us not fool ourselves into thinking that it can replace basic, incremental development of skills … or into thinking that there is now a golden “silicon” road to higher learning.  The road is the same, though we may walk it with more shiny shoes. 

        Or maybe a better stretch of the metaphor “… shiner new crutches.”  Because when used to thin down the non-technological component of education, that’s what these toys are.

        I can’t speak for the U.S. — perhaps someone else here has the data — but Statistics Canada provides an interesting perspective on the value of computers in math education in Canada.   Manitoba is ranked second-last (of 10 provinces) in the assessments, but ties for second in availability of computers in the classroom — Saskatchewan being the champion provider of computers … which shares the basement with Manitoba in math.   Alberta ties with us in computer provision, and ranks high in math — but in recent years (i.e. since the influx of computers) has been steadily slipping in its scores.   Quebec has far-and-away the best assessment scores in Canada — and the FEWEST per-capita computers per child in the classroom.  Etc.  It is almost a perfect inverse correlation.  http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/features/education-rankings/  Run that through your regression software (as you apparently believe that’s better than doing it by hand).

      • R. Craigen

        Rereading your piece, Aran, I see a somewhat more obvious problem than this one.  The article purports to be about “innovation”, but its content is almost entirely concerned with “technology”.  Have you conflated the two, or are you just not able to come up with any good, non-technological examples of contemporary innovation in the classroom?  You mention a bunch of things pertaining to classroom structure … in passing … students in rows of desks and all that.  I remember when they were tearing down classroom walls 20 years ago, to make school into one big, happy, family-room environment with students working in groups, sitting in circles on the floor, heterogeneous activities happening all around … and it was found to be so distracting that they started putting in dividers and re-installing walls so that students could focus on what was at hand in their own classroom.  Innovation for the sake of innovation is just, well dumb.  Innovation for ideological reasons (see dogwhistle code-phrases you use like “challenging the legitimacy of expert-driven knowledge”, “knowledge silos”, “standardization and mass production” etc.) can be as bad or worse.  Why don’t we focus on providing excellent education, and worry less about what kind of brave new world we wish to socialize the little kiddies into?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9319654 Kathleen Freimuth

    I really enjoyed reading this article and I think the two questions here are extremely important. I am first an elementary teacher, second a student in a Master’s program for Educational Technology, and third a Board of Education member in my town. Because of my three roles, I see all sides of the significance of integrating technology and keeping our students up to speed with 21st century skills. There is no denying that we have to take risks and adapt our teaching to the new technologies that will help support the needs of all learners. There is so much technology out there–hardware, software, interactive websites, etc.–that can help move our children forward. I think the piece about innovation starts with the deliverers of the technology and academics–we have to attempt and experiment with what’s out there. 

    In two years, the Common Core State Standards are going to impact all participating states, their students, and their teachers. On top of the academic content that needs to be addressed, there will be a technology competency piece that will be included. While we know that students of today are already technologically savvy, it will be the teacher’s job to model and be the facilitator for those necessary technological skills that coincide with the academic content. While it seems as though it’s not going to be easy, we are moving in the right direction. I imagine you will be finding more school districts who are adding a position of a Technology Leader or Technology Curriculum Specialist because it will be necessary; if there is no one who can provide the training for staff on the technology, its purpose will be lost come time for the classroom delivery.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      It seems we are making glacial progress. But this is how innovation seems to work. Quantum leaps only happen after tons of tinkering, trial and error.

  • Pingback: » Falando um pouco de inovação Daniela de Rogatis

  • Joe Palmucci

    I enjoyed this article.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Thanks for reading.

  • Joe Palmucci

    I teach an 8th grade STEM class, with my undergrad degree being in Technology and Engineering Education.  (In case you don’t know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.)  My job is to take the classes that student’s may find boring and irrelevant and bring life to them in a hands on setting.  This seems to be a brand new concept in education, but is something that Tech Ed and Shop teachers have been doing for years.  While I do feel like my class does support and foster innovation, I do not believe that our current education system does.  Yes,
    they may throw around buzz words like STEM and 21st Century Skills and buy the newest technology to fill the school just to create the illusion they are, but when it comes down to it, the only thing that really matters are the
    standardized test scored.  Teachers
    essentially have to teach to a test and not to the learners needs.  I have seen so much wasted technology and opportunities, items that have cost the town big money, just to be paraded around for a month and then put into storage and forgotten about.    

     I have 26 PC’s designated to my classroom, and while it may be tempting
    to throw the students on the computer and tell them to Google something or have
    them play an “educational game,” but I know that while it may kill time, it is
    not really benefiting the students’ needs. 
    You have to use the technology to supplement the teaching, not make the
    technology teach the lesson for you. 
    Technology can really aid to teach things and show things to kids that
    maybe we can’t physically do or show them, but I believe it should only be used
    as an aid.  I am all for having kids
    using iPads or tablets in the classroom, but they MUST be used correctly,
    otherwise you will just be wasting your districts money. Even more important
    than money, you will be wasting a students’ education.

    Before a teacher can effectively integrate technology in the class, teachers need to be properly educated and trained.  Only then will technology make a difference in students’ educations.  

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Agreed. Technology should be used to augment critical thinking and creativity.

    • Julio P.

      You make a very strong and legitimate point. Nothing kills me more than to see some new and flashy piece of equipment, that was probably very expensive, sit around and collect dust because no one was trained and no one is comfortable using it. A few years ago my district purchased a cart of iPods for classroom use. It cost several thousand dollars. The cart mostly sits in the library doing nothing. The devices are not completely practical to use in the classroom and only two instructors were trained. One of them is now retired. The other one is me. While I did not think the iPods were practical as a classroom tool I was willing to show other teachers how to use them and was also told I would be given time to conduct training sessions. That time was never granted. So, to your point, technology does nothing without trained professionals to integrate it.

  • EnglishTeacher

    So much of this has to do with prep load.  After literally 12 years of begging, I have finally been able to institute college-credit English classes for my high school seniors.  Okay, right?  Well, I also have two sections of “regular” English 12, one section of orphaned English 9, and a “structured” study hall.  I have piloted two courses that survived for a few years but were cut due to budget constraints.  Had I not stuck out my neck and innovated, I’d be teaching the same curriculum to six sections of a single grade level;  instead, I’m teaching 9-college.  Until we make it uncomfortable for teachers to stick to their “comfort zones,” the innovators will continue to be exhausted and discouraged.

    • http://twitter.com/fusionjones Aran Levasseur

      Yeah, it does seem that teachers do have to take risks in order to be innovative. Hopefully we can find institutional ways to encourage teachers to step out of their comfort zones. 

  • Spanish Teacher

    .I agree that technology is critical in today’s classrooms.  Being a real novice with technology for instructional purposes, I believe the school districts should provide teachers with the time and materials necessary to explore how technology can facilitate and promote 21st century skills in student’s learning.
    I agree that technology is critical in today’s classrooms.  Being a real novice with technology for instructional purposes, I believe the school districts should provide teachers with the time and materials necessary to explore how technology can facilitate and promote 21st century skills in student’s learning.

  • henrietta S

    I truly enjoyed this article. For the past school year I
    have been  teaching adults  at a school with “the 50 min”
    hour  prior to that I taught for 10 years where the teaching blocks were
    120 minutes. I believe the longer class time allotted the adult students to
    become more engaged in the classroom learning and the work. The depth of the
    learning and the usage of technology in the longer classes blended and I did
    not have the distraction factor or the “off topic” factor as I
    experienced with the shorter 50 minute hour, this past year. Recently, the
    students became engaged and disengaged as the time factor seemingly had an
    impact on their willingness to get involved.  I believe especially with
    the adult learners that the longer 120 minutes of learning time matched their
    need for learning.
     I believe weak links for  the use of technology in the classroom are
    multiple. The  concerns are a related to
    leadership  and the teachers.  Reluctant leaders who do not to allow
    students to use their own devices in the classroom, and the lack of
    Professional Development for  the teachers who lack the skills for the
    usage of technology.
    I am certainly not stating to disregard all traditional methods of teaching but
    use technology to enhance the learning and develop the required skills for life
    today. I teach skills in a trade which has grown tremendously with the use of technological
    input, but the human element of knowledge and putting the knowledge together
    with the technology has enhanced the learning and changed the teaching of the
    skills I train the students to develop.

  • Julio P.

    Well said and well written. When I was an undergrad an instructor once told me that schools are always at least “20 years behind” the business world when it comes to technology. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this as I had never really been in the business world and hadn’t done any teaching yet. It wasn’t until I started visiting schools as an undergrad and talking about technology with teachers that I fully realized and understood how schools lag behind the rest of the business world in technology. Some of it has to do with money, some with time, and some with lack of training. Too many teachers are afraid to begin to incorporate a tool or resource that is so foreign to what is known and understood. The approach outlined in Mr. Levasseur’s article is practical and appropriate. Teachers in any given school are going to be at different levels of knowledge and comfort when it comes to integrating new technologies and tools. They need to be introduced slowly and carefully or the teacher may mentally check and resort to the “old ways” of doing things. Newer teachers who are on the cutting edge of technologies have to accept the role of mentor and be willing to gently guide the process of technology integration. We must try to discuss website creation and new computer devices in ways that won’t intimidate but, rather, interest and excite our fellow teachers. The bottom line is that education will pass us by if we don’t adapt, but the transition must be as smooth as possible with as few casualites as possible.

  • Kristin DePodesta

    I really enjoyed this article and it really got me thinking.  The basic question though, asked in the title of the article, is a tough one to answer.  I do think our education system does support innovation.  You can innovative in so many ways…not just technology.  It’s just the way you creatively choose to reach your curriculum goals.  I do think however that technology is a crucial component to incorporate into today’s innovative clasroom, and in that respect, it is a little tougher to answer that basic question with a resounding yes.  I think (hope at least) that there are so many teachers that are willing to incorporate technology into their classroom in a meaningful manner.  In our education system, it all comes down to money so many times.  Unfortunately technology is not cheap, and with that, comes a long decision-making process to buy those tools we need.  Technology changes so quickly that we often (at least in public education) finally get tools behind the times and then have trouble keeping up with the trends.

    With this new technology, I then feel it is a fine line we have to teach our students.  While I am a huge fan of technology and using it as a resource, we have to teach our students not to be overly reliant on it and to be able to think for themelves as well.  Decision-making and criticial thinking skills are still on the top of my list of skills that I think should be valued as skills all students should have.  Technology should be a tool that is used to reinforce those skills and teach students how they can utilize various technologies now and in the world beyond school.  I just feel we, as teachers, need to remember technology is a tool, not a replacement of teaching, and we need to find meaningful ways to use them in our curriculum.  If it’s not meaningful, it’s just a waste of time – both the students’ and ours.

  • Ms. B

    I am currently and Ed Tech Grad Student, and a third year Middle School Math teacher at an independent school. Luckily, obtaining the technology I want to implement in my classroom; is not a difficult task. When my department head discovered I could use a smart board, one was installed the next day. I decided this past year to “flip” my pre-algebra class, and the acceptance of new innovative pedagogy was overwhelming among my colleagues, parents, and students. I have now acquired a classroom set of IPads! I am currently using ibooks author to create an ebook for my 6th grade class, in addition to experimenting with some apps to achieve a seamless digital notebook. 

    All of these skills were learned, cultivated, and perfected through trial and error! I can flawlessly navigate a smartboard and integrate it seamlessly into my teaching because during my student teaching semester, I arrived to my classroom one day, and the white board had been removed, and there was a smart board on the wall. I had the choice to learn, or fail. My introductory video lectures for my flipped classroom were lengthy and had poor sound quality until I learned about editing. I have dedicated almost my entire summer this year to finding apps, and online resources that I can use in my teaching with the IPads next year.

    Luckily, being in an independent school, I have plenty of class time to finish my curriculum, and no standardized tests so a few failed days here or there will not break my streak of technology innovation. However, it amazes me how my colleagues feel as though I must have some “great insight” about technology, that it “comes naturally” to someone of my youth ;)
    They are quite disappointed when I explain I have spent months writing a text book, and searching for applicable apps!

    It’s crucial for educators to be trained and/or understand that trial and error will make you a pro!

  • Christina J

    I find this article to be relevant to my own teaching experiences.  I find that many teachers are stuck in times when technology was not a tool that was used in the classroom.  I strongly agree with the idea that the idea of what it means to be a teacher is changing.  I view my role as a teacher as more of a support for the students and their role is to discover and learn in the best way that works for them.

  • Charlotte S

    I am frustrated with my school system for not providing innovative technology to the K-5 classes in our district.  I am an teacher that is eager to bend technology and innovative skills into my classroom and I am constantly being denied.  I am working in a classroom that is no different than the classroom that I was taught in 25 years ago with the only difference being a single computer on the teachers desk.  I do not feel that my current education system supports Innovation… at least in my district.

  • Pingback: If Robots Will Run the World, What Should Students Learn? | MindShift