Friday, July 25, 2014

What if we provided you with a classroom set of iPads?

What if we provided you with a classroom set of iPads? We asked this question during some of our interviews last spring. The range of responses we received was interesting. Some candidates were thrilled with the idea and talked about all the ways they would be able to use the devices. Others admitted they didn't know much about how to use iPads for learning, but would be eager to learn more. One candidate shared that her school bought several iPads for her classroom a couple years ago, but she hadn't used them much. She said the school didn't really offer any training.

To be clear, we only have a handful of iPads in our building. However, we have a vision of being a 1:1 school at some point in the near future. We asked the question to get a sense of how open candidates were to implementing technology in the classroom. Ideally, we are looking for teachers who are passionate about leveraging technology as a tool for learning. Clearly, having iPads go unused for a couple of years is not acceptable even if the school failed to provide training.

So I hear this all the time in the graduate classes I teach. We need to offer teachers more PD on how to use technology. And I couldn't agree more. Schools always need to improve the learning opportunities for teachers, and it is a poor practice to just drop new devices or software on a teacher without training. But it also seems like this line of thinking is the most common excuse for not taking control of one's learning and becoming confident with digital tools.

Ultimately, we need educators to be active learners and seek out the information they need. I am not a technology wizard, but my experience tells me that 98% of what I know I've learned by doing, exploring, researching, etc. It did not happen because of a training. Let's be empowered to learn what we need when we need it. Schools need to offer opportunities for tech training, but teachers should never wait until a training is offered to learn something that might be good for them and their students.

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