As I prepare the final touches to my presentation for the annual ETA Conference, it has provided me a short time to pause and reflect on just how electronic my professional and personal life has become. This may sound cliched to some tech savvy teachers out there. However, it is great to see that teachers who have been more afraid of technology begin to embrace it – to an extent. It’s ain’t perfect yet.
I am going to the conference tomorrow with nothing but my iPad and my camera. I know that when I get there that all the notes I need to take I can type on the iPad. I can also communicate with other participants at the conference via Twitter on the iPad. The presentation I am to make has been saved already – with youtube links and relevant documents – on Prezi. So, I am going to be entirely portable, ready to go. It’s fantastic for someone who dislikes carrying things but also likes to feel a sense of belonging with a group (ding – NSW HSC reference No.1).
I know that the staff at my school are not at the same point as me and that is fair enough. They are delivering a 20th Century syllabus with mostly 20th Century tools to a student body who is familiar with the teacher-centric learning model; many of the same students who see their laptops more as an entertainment centre than a learning tool.
Walking around our staffroom, you can see me experimenting with Tweeting resources to our senior students, setting up a Tumblr account, playing with Wall.fm and generally expressing displeasure at the Windows machines in the staffroom. See many other staff members, and you’ll see statistics being punched into a screen; some Google searches for resources and report writing. They are also sitting at their desks.
I am rarely seen at my desk. Indeed, it is hard to see my desk for the paper that others put on it. Living electronically in this context is a challenge. The paper piles are testament to that. It has also provided some interesting interactions with the students. My Tumblr blog is something some Year 10 students are finding curious – though more as a “Sully’s using Tumblr??? WTH???” reaction than a genuine interest in the content. I have subsequently learnt through using Tumblr that students see the picture uploading component as more interesting than the composing of a well rounded blog – more Facebook than WordPress. This is a pity, because it’s very friendly for blogging neophytes. Having students mix their “random” status updates with decent blogs will be one of the challenges facing educators into the new techno world.
The next step will be working with Google Docs with Year 11 Extension One students; getting Personal Brain installed on computers at school and continuing to assess just how to have students switching on their student minds when they switch on their laptops. Their utterly flawed, buggy, battery-sucking Windows business machines.
I’m starting to wonder what life was like before my iMac and iPad. A whole lot less electronic and a whole lot more frustrating. Though, I was much less addicted to Twitter.