Saturday, January 06, 2007

Recognizing Change and Doing Something About It

In the northeast, our winters are usually marked by unbearably cold days and non-stop snow. We usually have inches if not feet on the ground by this time of the winter. Not this year... In fact, I walked out of the house two days this week with a sweater on but no coat. Nightline last night had a report about a man whose business in the winter is operating a ski run - but not this winter. He saw the signs in the climate changes last winter and didn't even open up this winter. Instead, he's beginning to re-tool his business in order to run a water park instead. He's changing his operations based on the trends he's observing and the changes he's anticipating. Instead of just closing down for good he's making the changes that will be necessary for him to continue producing income.

This made me think about the same thing in education. Are we adjusting to the trends and the changes that we observe around us? One day, in a computer lab, there were two 4th grade students who came to school with Bluetooth devices, brought them to the computer lab and were talking with each other via these devices during their working time. Of course, the result was to take them to the principal. But, how long will it be before more children bring those devices to school, even 4th graders?

I was asked recently if I'd do a workshop during our upcoming professional development day focusing on a particular piece of software we have on computers in our elementary school. While I think it's a valuable piece of software and I constantly refer to its use as a learning tool for students - it's just not that difficult to use. If someone wants to learn to use it, I could spend 30 minutes with them and they'd be all set. Instead of using that professional development time on piece of software, I'd much rather spend that time helping teachers to understand the trends and changes going on that we may not be aware of. I already know that most of our teachers don't have any idea what a blog is. Honestly, I think the day is coming when we won't be buying software anymore. Instead, all of the tools we need will be found on the web - actually they're already there and will only continue to get better, more efficient, more user friendly. Our biggest challenge will be to keep ourselves informed and connected with each other to share those developments and share the best uses of the tools to help our students become better learners.

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