Monday, April 21, 2008

The More Things Change...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. One of the biggest obstacles I have in sharing my passion for computers in education with other teachers is that many feel that as soon as new hardware comes out, or the next version of a piece of software comes out, that the old stuff is obselete. This would mean to them that all that they had learned was obsolete.

Folks, it's just not so. What are some of the things that change:

Hardware - just like cars, computers age, and they do not improve in performance with age. It needs to be replaced. Computer labs are best replaced as a whole, not piecemeal. This should be done because then you can have longer stretches of time where your lab is under warrantee as a whole. Most importantly, you can provide your students with a consistent environment, and that is key for success. If your students spend a lot of time on hardware glitches and reboots, then your lessons will be less impactful.

I have approached my parent group about having a parent spearhead a committee to focus on raising funds gradually to replace the computer lab as a whole in the future. We haven't had any takers yet, but I am still hopeful. We have a small dedicated bunch of parents, but I hope we get even more parents putting their hands up in support of their school community.

What stays the same - Software (sort of). While Microsoft has added a lot of features to Microsoft Word over the years, the edit menu still contains "copy, cut, and paste." You can save a file by clicking on "File" and choosing save. In fact, many of the commands are in the same place as always. There are common factors between programs, and with so many applications these days on the web, it doesn't make as much difference what kind of programs or operating systems you have.

What stays the same - kids like collaborating with others, kids want to share what they have learned with others, kids like being engaged in what they are learning, and kids like be offered choice as to what they learn, how they learn, and yes when they learn.

What stays the same - we as teachers have to keep our eye on what is going to be relevant to our students' futures, and equip them with the skills they need to be successful at whatever endeavor they choose. This means moving out of our comfort zones, an inch at a time, on a daily basis. We the teachers must keep moving forward.

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