Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teachers Learning to use SMART Boards need the Right Photocopier

(from SMART Technologies)

I had great conversations with some elementary teachers on a learning team today.  Their team is adopting SMART boards in their classroom practice.  Some have a bit more technology in their backgrounds than others, but all are fine teachers.  One of the most interesting comment I heard today, (and yesterday, and in a few other sessions recently) was the lament that some really great activities took a lot of effort to produce, but were very quickly "consumed" by the students.  Half an hour to make, 5 minutes in front of the students.  Reminds me of when I make pasta for my family!

Learning new technology can be a challenging and even intimidating.  But having to create your resources from scratch?  A really depressing thought.  No wonder some teachers are reluctant to take on new technology. 

One piece of technology teachers in our district should get familiar with is our new photocopiers.  Just got them last month.  But not because they print really sharp copies.  It's because they scan. 

(photo by fplgnome @ flicker - CC licenced work)

When you put a page, or more importantly, an entire file folder of pages on the feed tray and hit scan, the new copier asks you to put in an email address, such as your own.  Then, you get your scans as a PDF file in your inbox.  I timed it - took less than 30 seconds for a single file to get to my phone.  Now - throw the paper file in the recycle bin. 

Don't flinch.  You don't need it anymore.  It's now an electronic copy, and is on a server backed up by another server.  It's safe.  And easier to share.  And - you can put it on your SMART board. 

This means that teachers can learn how to use a new tool, but use resources they are familiar with. 

I don't believe in taking new tools and try to make them work in the same old ways.  I think that we should use technology to do some great teaching in ways we couldn't do before we had it.  But, in order to help teachers adopt these new technologies, I think it would be a good practice to take lessons and resources they know, and put them on the SMART board. It helps them to focus on learning how to use the tool, and feel comfortable that they are are going to be able to offer the same quality of instruction they did before they had the SMART board. 

Besides, who knows how their old lessons will evolve once students and teachers can write all over them on the SMART board, add clip art, video, and link out to current resources on websites.

Who would have thought that the right photocopier can help shift teacher practice?

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