The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) certainly think so and is a great resource if you’re interested in tech and teaching. I have to admit, it can be a humbling experience once you see how so many teachers are using technology in productive ways to enhance learning. They are also great role models on how technology (like it or not) is here to stay and can be used in so many positive, creative and constructive ways. Kids and teachers are not merely consuming content. They’re creating it, sharing it, and in many cases, using it to enhance what they are doing in the classroom. ISTE’s mission is to advance excellence in learning and teaching through innovative and effective uses of technology. Their annual conference takes place next week. I’m very curious, but still feel that I’m lagging behind in my tech skills [maybe it’s because I live in the land of Microsoft and have too many friends who have jobs somehow related to tech and always talk in TLA’s (three letter acronyms)]. Nonetheless, I may put this conference on my agenda for next year.
I only began to get a taste of the internet in college. Most of the kids today carry a device in their pocket that can access the internet in seconds. What I find fascinating is that unlike many things I’ve learned, a lot of the technology I know about and use was self-taught (usually out of necessity). It’s true, we learn many things from books or experiences that do not involve teachers, but using technology has always seemed to be one of those things I’ve never taken a class for: keyboarding, email, word processing, spreadsheets, etc. This blog, for example, was just about pressing a few buttons here and there. Presently, I’m learning how to use Adobe Illustrator and after looking into various classes, I decided to get a few books from the library and use the wealth of available resources on the internet. Seriously, if you know how to search well, you can find out how to do just about everything online. Of course there are many cases where a live person or the actual place you’re learning is crucial. You cannot learn to ski by reading about it, but you can certainly learn a lot about it beforehand, so that when you get to the slope you have a much better idea of what the instructor is saying. For me, that means that educators have to make sure the experiences students are getting are important enough for them to be there.
Getting back to ISTE, they not only have standards for students, but tech standards for teachers as well as for school administrators. Looking at the teacher’s standards, I guess I can say I meet most. There are a few though that I could improve on quite a bit. For example, standard 3c) communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers, using a variety of digital0media and formats; I use email and the telephone, but that’s about it. My school is progressing towards teacher pages on their website, and I’m still holding off on twitter, but I still don’t use video in my classroom. I believe my school has one video camera (of course this will be on my next phone, so I’m not too worried). There are a myriad of web 2.0 tools, but it’s difficult to find the balance and know what will be useful. I balked at blogging (who wants to read what you did last night), but then I started reading other teacher blogs, learning tons from them, and got inspired by their willingness to share what they were passionate about. And so, what started out as a way to share what I learned at a conference in February with the rest of my faculty continues on. This is my hundredth post. Thanks to all who visit.