Recently I had the privilege of receiving a message on Facebook from a friend that I taught with for a couple years. He is making the move into administration and asked me how he potentially could respond to the following question that a school district was planning on asking him during their interview process.
“From your point of view, how important is technology in education? What technology related skills can you contribute to a school district?”
The question is a pretty good one…and I think there’s a million ways you could go with it. The trick is that people also view technology with a bit of fear & skepticism…so you need to tread carefully. I would frame all of your thoughts as technology being a “literacy” issue…and not a technology, or tool issue. This allows you to say crazy things like…you expect all teachers to effectively and authentically embed use of technology into their content area…and that technology should not be something that is “taught by the tech teacher down the hall.” This is especially important as we routinely cut budgets…and teachers…and programs.
I would also say that viewing technology as a literacy issue…and not a tech issue is that it not only gives you an opportunity to push for effective use of tech in all content area classrooms…but technology now becomes a reading/writing/power issue. Reading online becomes just like reading any other text, magazine, primary source…etc. Writing online now becomes just like writing a five paragraph essay, painting a picture, giving a speech, etc. It requires that you have a very broad view of “text”. If you think about it…this is reflected in society. People check their smart phones first thing in the morning. We read our news online, communicate using online tools…etc.
The last thing to keep in mind is that…yes, there are big things that are different about these online spaces…and the traditional ones that our teachers and students exist in. There’s bullying, public identity, copyright, access, etc. There are tons of challenges, tons of potential problems…tons of potential opportunities. The trick is that you (hopefully) believe in empowering your teachers so that they can help figure out the answers and solutions to these problems. Your potential teachers are the experts in their content area…and of their students. They (should) know these better than anyone else. Why not trust them to think deeply about how they changes to literacy, technology, and text affect them? This will require a bit of flexibility, a bit of creativity, a bit of reflective thinking…and a ton of persistence as we rethink this paradigm of education. But, in many ways…isn’t that what we do every day as a teacher?