I’m sure you’ve seen YouTube videos of young kids picking up iPads and operating them like it was second nature (if not here’s your chance). There’s also a chance that either you or someone you know has sat at a PC wondering how to make a table in Excel. Powerful and useful technology is useless if the design of it is convoluted.
Education is the same way, you can have a tool that can create the greatest lesson plan of all time, but if it isn’t approachable for teachers then it’s worthless. When teachers don’t understand what they’re working with it negatively affects students. This applies to the Common Core. As the nation is adopting Common Core practices need to continually refocus their objectives towards the one thing that matters: People. Luckily, there are people with more power than I who agree and are doing something about it.
At a recent State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), panelists discussed how schools are getting ready in advance of common core implementation.
SETDA panelists Doug Renfro, an instructional designer at Metro Nashville Public schools, emphasized the need to focus on people, rather than technology, when getting ready to transition to common core evaluations. He believes that having those who are presenting common core professional development ideas model the instructional techniques teachers will be using to deliver common core ideas.
"Getting our curriculum people to model [common-core instructional techniques] is a huge first step," he said. With the correct modeling in place, "at least you're not going to undergo professional development that's completely foreign to the way we want to teach."
Another panelist Joanna Antonio, a technology coordinator at Passaic Public schools in New Jersey, detailed an effort to create a one-to-one environment for common core by giving middle schoolers and high schoolers Google Chromebooks. Antonio emphasized that just rolling out the technology is not enough. Teachers will need intensive professional development. Antonio is providing this to a group of pilot teachers in hopes they will pass the knowledge on to their peers in the district.
Geoff Fletcher, deputy executive director of SETDA and third panelist, encouraged educators to look at exactly how funds earmarked for technology and other purposes can be used. Money that was for textbooks can be used to buy digital instructional materials or purchase more advanced equipment. “If you adopt digital materials, you’re going to be much more flexible,” he told the audience. “Money is a challenge, but the flexibility is there to begin to take advantage of it in school districts.”
The era of digital learning is coming. Making sure that our teachers are prepared is crucial. After all, if a toddler can use an iPad, shouldn’t a teacher be able to give a presentation via Skype?