Sunday, May 4, 2014

Technology, Creativity, and Windows of Opportunity

At another academic year's end I have much to reflect on so this post is the first of a few that will try to help me think through and share what I've been doing. Throughout my research, visits to schools and teaching I have a growing sense that we are truly at a crossroads. Technology is becoming ubiquitous and schools are embracing it. The working assumption of many early technology integration leaders was that technology will help open learning up. It will help teachers individualize instruction and students to learn independently and follow their own learning paths.
This option is still open but at the same time a second option opened. Technology in schools can be used as a top down delivery of curriculum and assessment that would stymie any creativity from teachers and as a result students. As I watch school districts I see both trends happen. Larger districts tend to be top down using technology to deliver content and increase centralized control. Smaller more agile districts tend to be more open to diverse practices. This week I visited Aurora Public Schools and saw some of that agility. Teachers were creating their own assignments, thinking through steps and allowing their students to do the same.
I believe that we have a window of opportunity, the call for 21st century skills may be enough to make sure that the top down approach does not win. For that we have to act, lead and show the options. In teacher education we must make sure that our future teachers are ready to use technology in ways that will promote creativity. We need to make sure that young teachers joining schools that are often called on to lead technology integration are ready.
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