It’s About the Learning, not about the Technology…or is it?

Many of my tribe gathered and learned together this weekend.  (If you have not read The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson, run don’t walk to your preferred book supplier to read a copy.)  The 2011 T³ International Conference begins today in San Antonio.  As a regular practice, the 300+ T³ Instructors from all over the world gather on Thursday, the day before this conference, to learn in team, to work together for our professional develop.  It is an amazing experience. 

It has spurred more thinking about technology and teachnology.  We say over and over again “It’s not about the technology; technology is a tool.  It is about the lesson; it is about LEARNING.” 

Is it? 

If I don’t understand the technology, will I ever get to the content, pedagogy, and learning?

Ruth Casey and I, along with 6 other members of the TI-Nspire CX Publish View team, spent our Thursday together teaching and learning about Publish View for the latest version of TI-Nspire.  It is SO COOL.  You can drop images, video, hyperlinks, interactive spreadsheets, interactive graphs and so much more onto a sheet to organize resources and opportunities for learning.  If you blog, you can think of it as a math-science dynamic glog (a graphic blog – see glogster.edu for another type of glog) where learners can interact with the science and the math.  The new Publish View allows documents to be embedded; now our learners will be able to interact with the lesson online.  How GREAT is that? 

The Publish View team spent the day teaching the “how to” of using Publish View.  We used Stopping Distances as our foundation.   The physics, math, and application of the Stopping Distances lesson requires strong content and skill.  My T³ tribe knows the math or the science or both.  How many know both?  Who could know it all?  I want to know more about both the math and the physics.  I want to know more about the social impact and ramifications of distracted driving.  I want to know what I can do to help our communities experiences less of the tragic consequences of distracted driving. 

I want to know more.

…and I am a teacher teaching other teachers.  I want to be known as a learner.  I want to lead learning, to be led to learning, to collaborate in learning.

The technology becomes teachnology for me.  I can now wonder about the physics successfully and safely.  I am motivated to find and interact with resources and to ask my favorite physics teacher to help me learn.  Don’t you think your favorite English teacher will be all over the topic of distracted driving as will your favorite language teachers, art teachers, technology teachers, etc.? Can we find common ground to integrate our disciplines for and with our learners? 

The Publish View of TI-Nspire software became teachnology for me because it prompted my learning; it spurs me to new levels of learning, inquiry, and collaboration.  The teachnology offered me the opportunity to think creatively, to integrate ideas from multiple sources, to blend and blur content lines, and to need to work collaboratively with a team that spans multiple disciplines. 

If we value problem-finding as much as problem-solving, then we must learn to utilize teachnology to prompt learners to ask questions, to investigate, to discover, and to collaborate.

In our session Thursday, we never got to the math, science, or social lesson
…or did we?

In many cases, it is about the technology.  The technology must become teachnology.  We need our learners to problem-find and problem-solve.  We aspire to facilitate and motivate self-directed learning.  We value creativity, collaboration, and critical-thinking. This compels us to understand that  is not about Mac vs. PC, iPad vs. tablet, iPhone vs. Blackberry, dry erase markers vs. colored chalk.  It is not about being 1:2, 1:1, 2:1.  (I’m well past being 1:1; aren’t you?)

It is about experience, inquiry, discovery; it is about learning – all of which can be accomplished without technology IF we are satisfied and willing to stay in a closed community of learners that we can see and talk with daily.  But, if we want to broaden your community of learning and support, don’t we need technology?  If we want to learn, serve, and lead with others, don’t we want and need to be more globally connected?

Learning something new is difficult.  It takes patience and perseverance. Shouldn’t we model this for our learners? 

Now is the time.  The negative self-talk has got to stop.  We can do this.  Our expectations have to rise.  We must believe in the best of ourselves and others.  We should stop making excuses and learn.  We need technology; we need teachnology.  Stop saying “I can’t or they can’t.”  Let’s change our language to “Can you help me?  Can I help you?”  Isn’t that what we want our learners to do?  How many times do we coach our students – complain, actually – about that very phrase?  Stop saying “I can’t or we can’t.”  Change the language to “Can you help me? Will you help us?”  Stop saying what we can’t do.  Focus on what we can do.  We are learners! 

It is about technology and teachnology.

It is about learning and Learning!

2 thoughts on “It’s About the Learning, not about the Technology…or is it?”

  1. I tried two new things in my Honors Algebra II class today. The topic was piecewise graphs. First I displayed a piecewise graph on the Teacher Edition TI-Nspire software and asked my students to see if they could find an equation to make this graph. The discussion amongst students was rich. Some students kept asking me for the “answer” but I kept asking them questions. After a few minutes, I did a quick poll asking them to send me their questions. I then continued instruction about piecewise graphs based on their questions – some of which I answered, some I would not answer, and some I directed them with more questions. By the end of the period the students had taught one another how to build a piecewise graph – it was exciting.

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  2. Sharon…Thanks so much for sharing! It is about persistence…We are modeling sticking with something until you find the right path. I passionately believe that we can get our learners to the desired target by asking questions. Let’s help them construct their own knowledge by leading through questioning. They can do it; we can help!

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