While I’m writing my dissertation, I am teaching at an independent learning school in a small town in Southern California. The school has traditionally been packet-based, with very little use of digital anything.
Dr. Stephen Pietrolungo, the principal here, is working diligently to move the school into the 21st century. This week, he outlined several fairly simple ways to integrate digital tools, inquiry-based learning, and critical consumption of information in his blog as a kick-off to our launch of the international Hour of Code.
On Friday, I gave a talk on this paper at the SITE conference in Las Vegas on the relationship between Participatory Professional Development and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). Generally, I asserted that all of these innovations in technology are changing the ways learners interact with information, learning environments, their teachers, and each other. They are more connected – to everything – which means that we need to reenvision our understandings of what learning environments look like, how to design for them, and what counts as “engagement” and “learning” within them. However, this also means that we need to reenvision what professional development looks like and the ways in which it presents new information to teachers so that they can learn how to design for and teach in these new environments.
I was scrolling through tumblr today and came across holtthink’s post, which posed an excellent question: “should we still have sympathy for teachers who don’t use technology” or “don’t get computers?” It’s a fair question, and one I’ve come across many times. I would argue that, yes, we need to have sympathy for these teachers and moreover, we need to provide them with appropriate, sustained support in learning to use and integrate new technologies into their classrooms.