Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Technology for Teachers, Technology for Education

Oh my goodness my mind is buzzing. I have a number of Draft Copy posts hidden away behind this blog. My fingers and allocated time, can not keep up with my questioning, readings, thought provoking conversations, and observations. But today (tonight) I will share with you some thoughts sparked by my recent posts, my ict facilitator's provocations, and professional discussions I have had with colleagues.

I blogged last month about the Benefits of Technology in Education and Naketa (our fabulous ICT facilitator for the MOEs ECE ICT PL programme) left me a challenging question in the comments... "..You have outlined wonderful scenarios in which ICT has enhanced learning experiences for children. I wonder how ICT has impacted on your own learning - personally and professionally." As I posted last week about encouraging students by leaving comments - I thought I should be using the comments I receive more productively and began to ponder on Naketa's challenge. I take time to ponder - which is a good thing sometimes... I will try to summarise my thoughts later in this post...

This evening I had a phone call from a colleague. We don't actually work together in the same kindergarten, but we are both passionate ECE advocates and enjoy philosophical conversations about education in the early years and the more formal education of the school system.

As a result of some challenging situations my colleague has found herself in recently - namely working with others who do not share her philosophy - my colleague began to think more seriously about setting up her own childcare centre based on her ideas on education and on life in general. We talked about the practicalities of this and expected outcomes. We chatted about ideals and realities. We considered the future of education and if our ideas will ever really be embraced throughout the education system. We reflected on recent conferences we have attended and the 'change' foreseen in the future for education - when IS this future going to happen. We concluded that the future is not tomorrow - the future is today.

Today there are tools and resources that can benefit education in ways that has never been possible. There are tools and resources available for educators to use for advocacy, to promote the best of education and spread this to the world. If my colleague were to set up her own childcare centre (and it would be an awesome centre) and 'experiment' with her ideas and philosophies and run it as a model for future education - she would certainly have hurdles. For one she has to fit within current education regulations. Secondly what impact would she really have on the education system as a whole in New Zealand? What impact would her childcare centre of 10pupils have globally.

The future is now. Now teachers with the convictions such as my colleague, who are passionate about a new way forward, who have the skills, expertise and knowledge of the emergent curriculum, who can see classrooms beyond the four walls - have the freedom and audience right before them. And I believe we should all be taking advantage of this. I believe we should be sharing our professional ideas globally.

And to my original question - How has technology helped me personally and professionally?
I remember a time some 30yrs ago when my mother was cajoled into buying the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nothing wrong with that 30yrs ago but it was more than we could really afford at the time. I remember using this resource for my school projects. I also remember being very distracted by these numerous books (12 books, all different colours and themes) whilst doing my projects. I would find myself reading about things I 'wasn't supposed' to be reading because they would have nothing to do with the project at hand. However I would suddenly see the potential in the information provided in these books and whilst reading I would find out about things that I had often wondered about. Some years later my family moved overseas to live and 12 heavy Encyclopedia Britannica's didn't quite fit into the suitcase allowance. So they were left behind.

I'm not afraid to say I struggled at school. No not because I did not have the E.B. I just struggled. I struggled to get my ideas down on paper with my blotchy pens, my constant typos that my pen would make (lol) and the permanency of the marks my pen would make (copious amounts of crossing out or twink didn't cut it for assignments), and the lack of quick easy information, would trip me up continuously.

When I reached teachers college 10years after leaving school and the home computer was well established - my grades, my confidence and my learning took on a whole new life. With the advent of the internet my inquiring mind found a new source of energy. And with Web2.0 I have slowly (and perhaps less confidently) begun to find a voice. And with that - along with my colleagues and the children at Manaia Kindergarten who blog about their ECE experiences - I have inadvertently entered the world of advocacy. Together through Web2.0 we are advocating for Early Childhood, for the emergent curriculum, for the future of education (seeing the children in action in the kindergarten blog is much more convincing than reams of type as seen here - so check out their blog - www.manaiakindergarten.blogspot.com ).

Web2.0 is a tool that teachers who are passionate about education can use to promote their ideas, to advocate for education - not just to those teaching in the early years but to teachers in primary, secondary, tertiary - and heck - in business too. Early Childhood teachers, and teachers who believe in a new approach to education, can begin a dialog, join the conversations, promote their ideas.

What can technology do for you as a teacher? as a professional? It can enable you to advocate to a wider audience and - and bring the future of education closer.