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Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's not about the tool!

I'm fortunate, extremely fortunate.  I teach in a school that supports my interest in integrating technology, provides the resources that I request and more importantly, allows (and willingly provides) time for me to share ideas with other teacher in my building.

I teach on a freshman academy (4 teams, 4 teachers per team, 100 students per team, common planning time every day).  After some brainstorming discussions over the summer with my freshman housemaster, we decided to implement a "Best Practices" meeting once a month.  Each team will be provided time to share what they are doing on their team that could benefit the other three teams...my team was asked to go first.

We decided to present ideas on the use of flip cameras.  I have been having my students make common craft style films this year, the science teacher on my team filmed a lab and the math teacher on the team has plans to have students create instructional videos for solving equations.

Although the creation of a video for a class project is engaging for the students, I don't think that is the important part.  Although training teachers how to use flip cameras and edit the footage is necessary, again, it isn't the important part.  Technology integration is not about the tool!

Everyone is different.  Some teachers jump right in, some need every last detail, some need to see it work first, and some drag their feet.  What is important to know about integrating technology into the classroom, is that it is never about the tool.  Using technology for the sake of using it leads to...well, nothing really.

I just hope tomorrow that when my team is presenting about the use of flip cameras, that the teachers there understand that the presentation isn't about flip cameras...it is about providing a real audience for our students.

The projects created by my 9th grade students have been viewed by:
- Educators across the globe because of twitter
- College students
- Educators (MassCue)
- Other high school students (in and out of my school)

My students are posting their projects on their facebook pages, sharing them with their parents and are coming into my class each day telling me how many more hits their project has on youtube.

When is the last time a student posted a worksheet on facebook?  When in the last time a student's multiple choice test was shared with college students training to become high school history teachers?  When was the last time a student called an older brother in college to tell them to read their paper about the Middle Ages?  All of this has happened this year, but it's not about a flip camera, imovie or any other piece of technology.  It is about allowing the students to be creative, demonstrate their understanding creatively and then providing them with an audience that is bigger than my two eyes.

It's not about the tool...

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