My Comments to the Board on Technology Integration

During paradigm shifts we work to improve the old paradigm while simultaneously creating the new paradigm that will eventually render much of the old paradigm irrelevant. (Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions)

It’s almost 2011. We’ve been talking about educating for the 21st century for more than a decade now. We have to begin to make clear and consistent steps that put a little walk behind our talk.

CASTLE Director, Scott McLeod illustrates what this alignment of talk and walk might look like in his November 22nd blogpost, “If we were really serious about educational technology.”

We’ll have to become committed to teaching digital citizenship to our students, teachers, parents, and community—rather than ignoring reality by blocking access. We’ll have to teach our students to become and commit ourselves to being savvy, critical consumers of the masses of information and gadgets vying for our attention.

We’ll have to become committed to universal access for our students, and that commitment may have to come in the form of a line item in the budget for technology and a public Board position that values technology in budget allocation.

We’ll have to embrace our commitment to lifelong learning in a way we’ve never done before, because I can almost guarantee you the tables will be turned. At times, we adults will be learning at the feet of our students.

And we’ll have to do all this because the world has truly changed. Our primary concern used to be about whether or not our students knew the right content, but now content is readily available anytime, anyplace. I have more computing power on my iPhone than the entire world had in 1950.

We’ll have to embrace a new way of doing business. We’ll have to be committed to integrating technology in a way that transforms learning, not just laying new tech applications over existing practices.

We’ll have to embrace a new mission of ensuring our students have deep conceptual understanding and possess transferrable skills sets, rather than being concerned that they know the capitals of all fifty states. Today I could learn nearly everything I learned in school through YouTube and iTunesU.

In the end, we’re talking about thinking differently. In edu-jargon, we’d be talking about a paradigm shift. The tricky thing about educational paradigm shifts is that we can’t stop and retool. Essentially, we have to rebuild the plane while it’s still flying—with 2000 W-SR kids on board.

It’s truly an exciting time to be in education, and we have a golden opportunity rising just west of here in that beautiful new middle school. Instead of painstakingly retrofitting and retooling an outdated infrastructure to support a new model of learning, we’re building it from the ground up.

Technology decisions are among the hardest to make, because the reality is always that what you purchase today will be improved upon tomorrow, but it is time to start making technology decisions for next year. We are committed to due diligence in determining what’s best—both long and short term—for the district—as well as balancing instructional needs with fiscal realities. 

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