Perspectives from the Field: The Changing Technology Landscape

Tina Bloom, M.S., M. Ed., is a Field Site Liaison with PowerUp What Works and a Research Assistant with EDC. She is a certified elementary and special education teacher and was a classroom teacher for ten years.

On May 2, I attended the Tech Forum Conference in Boston, sponsored by TechLearning.com. The keynote speaker was Diana Laufenberg, a lead teacher at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA, an inquiry-drive project based high school focused on 21st-century learning. Diana’s presentation, Building Systems and Structures for Modern Learning, identified the importance of building structures and systems in organizations, schools, and classrooms that allow  for ongoing adaptation since the technology landscape keeps changing. Below are the three overarching questions and discussion points from the presentation:

  • How do we honor the human experience and not just the efficient outcome? Schools need a strong advisory group; an “ethic of caring” before focusing on the academics, and all-school activities that build community. Important rules are respect yourself, respect the community, and respect the school as a place of learning. Professional development needs to build community.
  • How do we create enough structure to be effective without becoming so rigid that we can’t innovate? The focus should be on collaboration rather than competition. It’s difficult for students to collaborate if competition takes precedent when students are working together. Use time thoughtfully; such as utilizing block scheduling and blended learning. Think about these important questions: What are we about? What’s important to us as a school community?
  • How do we ensure that it’s the technology that serves the learning and not the other way around? Value inquiry, celebrate student voice, offer authentic learning experiences, understand the need for flexibility, standardize little, reflect upon the work often, and emphasize the process as much as the outcome.

My take away was that systems and structure need to work cooperatively with the mission and vision of the organization. PowerUp WHAT WORKS (www.powerupwhatworks.org), a free website that requires no registration or log-in, has a comprehensive section on technology implementation. See the Technology Implementation Practice Guide. It addresses all of the key points raised by Diana Laufenberg.

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