Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A new paradigm finds its logical place for praxis

Reading the CARET site with the research reports I found myself wondering about why, given the case studies and research, the praxis with technology lags behind. While each specific application may not have been tested and “proved” the potential positive impact on learning is very clear. We are all realists enough to know that this is not a miracle or one size fits all solution but we also know it is an important part of our world and our lives and it is real world learning for our students. Clarence waxes eloquently on these issues in his recent posts.

The issues for me, in the very beginning stages of encouraging implementation and experimentation, center on a reflection regarding the paradigm shift that has been touted for many years now of the “guide on the side”.. It seems to me that though in many circles we talk about this idea and even acknowledge it as the preferred model we have not yet seen it take hold in daily practice.

To my way of thinking two issues surface in my own experience of trying to share the vision for the uses of technology-

· The tools ( and the learning curve) are intimidating for some.
· The technologies of podcasts , blogs, streaming video, and distant experts all force the issue of “guide on the side” and they are messy.

To encourage implementation I was struck by the need to affirm the teachers in their role of curriculum developers and help them frame the questions to guide that practice.

This idea come from an article on CARET which states:

“In a qualitative analysis of nine case studies of schools where technology was used to conduct inquiry-based learning, (Means & Olson, 1997) described the role of teachers as "curriculum developers." Technology integration involved teachers in rethinking and reshaping their curriculum. Key questions for teachers to ask themselves as they reorganize curricula in terms of the technology application(s) they have selected are:
· What does the technology offer students in terms of developing concepts and content?
· How does it help students to carry out inquiry processes?
· How will students work together collaboratively or cooperatively?
· What is the relationship between technology and other instructional materials?
· What new knowledge of my content or discipline, of teaching, or of technology do I need in order to foster new learning in my students?
· What knowledge processes, and skills do students need before using the technology?
· My addition- What is the authentic audience for this learning and how can my students enter into a dialogue with them?

If we are committed to being “guides on the side” to support inquiry based learning then we need to begin to practice this and we need to provide the enhanced access to knowledge and dialouge that current technology offers.

As an administrator I must lead by example and then provide practical opportunities for the teachers to try it for themselves. What better use of faculty meeting time than everyone together in the computer lab sharing and trying together.

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