Last week a group of teachers traveled to Boston to attend the iPad Summit, and since we have returned I have been asked many times, “So what did you learn? Did you find out about some good apps?” Refreshingly, I am able to answer that the summit was not all about apps and technology. For me, it was about learning, how education is changing rapidly, and finally how technology can help kids and teachers achieve their goals.
I was inspired by many speakers talking about the redefinition of learning. Before, people went to school to get information because schools, teachers and professors held the knowledge, and schools were the place to find it. Now, information is everywhere. If you want to know something, there are easy ways to look it up. Information is no longer the reason to go to school. Schools now need to help students figure out what to do with the information. What can you create? How can you build on the information received? How do we help children become resilient when faced with failure?
The last point in many presentations was almost a side note – how does technology fit in? It may seem odd that technology was not the main event, but I think that was the point these innovators in education were trying to make. Don’t use technology because someone in your school bought iPads for student use. If that is your reason for using them, then perhaps you should leave the iPads in the closet. However, if you see a student struggling, and technology can help that student share their thinking, then embrace it! If you can see that students have a different way to show what they are learning, by all means, again, embrace the technology. In a profession where most teachers are used to having a level of control over what happens in the classroom, it can be a scary proposition. How can teachers let go and trust that the students will fly? That is the change in our school culture that we need to embrace if we want our students to become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.
I want to thank Tony Wagner, Greg Kulowiec and the many other presenters in Boston that challenged me last week to really think about the way I interact with students and bring out the best them!