Standard V: Productivity and Professional Practice
Several years ago, using calculators in a school setting was considered “technology integration.” Today, for many teachers, Microsoft Office is “technology.” For our students, “technology” means cell phones and iPads. Is technology changing that fast? Or is our definition of technology shifting steadily with each new development? What is considered “technology” for one generation does not receive the same label. It is as though something is only “technology” if was developed after our birth (Hartman, Moskal, & Dziuban, 2005). However, with each new advancement comes new potential. This standard is, at its core, about tapping into that potential and affecting the way educators operate on a daily basis, changing everything from teaching and learning to community communication to participation in professional growth activities (Williamson & Redish, 2009). One of the most important things I can do as an educator and as a technology facilitator/leader of the future is to encourage my colleagues to commit themselves to learning. Technology certainly has a role in this, especially with the rise of social networking sites such as Ning, Plurk, Facebook, and Twitter for the purpose of expanding an educator’s practice and professionalism. It would be all too easy, however, to say that this standard is about finding new and creative ways for teachers to use new technologies that will make their lives easier/simpler/faster/cheaper. It would additionally be a gross oversimplification that radically misses the heart of the message presented by Williamson and Redish who, citing Michael Fullan, argue that, “addressing productivity and professional practice in schools… requires leveraging technology to support the ‘reculturing’ of schools” (1999; 2009). Through the use of technology, I am called not only to help teachers implement new tools that will support their own learning and productivity and their students’ learning and productivity, but also completely change the culture of the organization. This can only occur if I have facilitated a culture of learning and change. The organization itself cannot change nor can it learn unless the members that make up that organization are themselves learning individually (Senge, 1990/2010). This, then, is my call: facilitate an environment and even a culture of learning within the organization of which I am a member and thus model what I expect to see from my coworkers. Innovation and a culture of change starts with me.
This standard might be the most pressing issue facing technology in education today. There has been much talk over the past several years about the difference between today’s students and teachers, even to the extent that they have been labeled based on this difference (Prensky, 2001). Narrowly defined, the issue is what to do with ethical and moral issues that technology use brings with it. In the arena of social, ethical, legal, and human issues, I have worked diligently, even before knowing that it was considered a tenet of being a successful technologist. In surveying the educational landscape, I am keenly aware that today’s teachers, almost exclusively members of older generations, believe today’s students to be inherently proficient with technology. Further complicating the issue, because many in older generations are not as comfortable with the latest in technology, they have opted to disengage from the dialogue that must occur to keep our students safe, productive members of a digital society. There are indeed unique challenges that the proliferation and ubiquity of computer use and Internet access have brought upon our schools, particularly with the introduction of web 2.0 and social technologies (James, 2009). What I find most interesting is the intersection of my own story with the story of public education, particularly in the area of technology. As schools face challenges adapting to new styles of learning and different educational needs expressed by students, along with the social and ethical issues raised with “digital natives,” I have realized that I have found myself with a foot on either side of this chasm. On the one hand, I myself am a digital native. I “speak the language” if you will. My own learning preferences are in tight alignment with those of my students and, in reading many different articles and pieces about how to relate to the “Net Gen,” I frequently finding myself asking if the author was genuinely ignorant of that topic prior to their discovery of it or if they really believe they point they are trying to make is ground-breaking. As such, I am faced with the proposition of attempting to relate and work with “digital immigrants.” So, in reading about how to relate to my own generation, I am learning more about how to relate to the generations that I will be responsible for moving forward in my career as a technologist. Keeping in mind, naturally, that just because people are born in one generation or another does not make them ignorant nor proficient with technology. Instead, research is increasingly showing what Prensky hinted at and what was later illuminated further in a report released in aggregate by Educause: experience with technology matters more than your birth date (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; 2001). Thus, the issues of digital equity, privacy of electronic student records, students’ online safety, and copyright infringement must be addressed and we must actively engage ourselves in promoting policy and procedure that “promotes benefits for all and the exclusion of none (Williamson & Redish, 2009). Kids don’t inherently know what is right or wrong, even though they’ve always had technology around them. Teachers haven’t spent enough time learning about these pressing issues. The result, of course, is a major disconnect and one that must be closed if we, as social architects and culture-shapers, are to develop a system that is engaging and relevant, not just for children, but for the nation as a whole.
Full Reference List
Bransford, J. & Cocking, P. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Dewey, J. (1902/1966). The child and the curriculum. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Fullan, M. (1999). Change forces: The sequel. London: Falmer.
Hartman, J, Moskal, P, & Dziuban, C. (2005).Preparing the academy of today for the learner of tomorrow (Excerpted from Educating the Net Generation), Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/Resources/EducatingtheNetGeneration/PreparingtheAcademyofTodayfort/6062
James, C. (2009). Young people, ethics, and the new digital media: a synthesis from the good play project (Kindle edition), doi: 0262513633
Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century (Kindle edition)
Oblinger, D., & Oblinger, J. (2005). Is it age or it: first steps toward understanding the net generation[Excerpted from Educating the Net Generation, 2005]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.educause.edu/Resources/EducatingtheNetGeneration/IsItAgeorITFirstStepsTowardUnd/6058
Paige, R. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Public Affairs. (2004). A guide to education and no child left behind Washington, DC: Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/guide/guide.pdf
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E.R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Prensky, M. (2001, October). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On The Horizon, 9(5), Retrieved fromhttp://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf
Schacter, J. (1999). The impact of education technology on student achievement: What the most current research has to say. Retrieved from http://www.mff.org/pubs/ME161.pdf
Schrum, L, & Solomon, G. (2007). Web 2.0: new tools, new schools (Kindle Edition)Senge, P. M. (1990/2010). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization (Kindle edition)
Wagner, M. (2006, December 16). Passion and professional development: four philosophies for lead learners [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://edtechlife.com/?p=1551
Williamson, J, & Redish, T. (2009). Iste’s technology facilitation and leadership standards: What every k-12 leader should know and be able to do. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.