The following is a guest post from Jeremy Viermann, a school teacher in the Canyon Texas ISD. He gives great insight into how students and teachers experience technology in the classroom
"As students who have grown up with technology enter Texas classrooms, it is essential that all professional educators acknowledge that the world in which they live today, and the world that their students will enter as adults, is radically different from what existed in even the fairly recent past. Teachers must be able to prepare students for their future in a manner that assures that all students will not simply survive, but truly thrive in the world that awaits them."
-An exerpt from the Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology. (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=5082&menu_id=2147483665)
The vision set forth by the Texas Education Agency tells us that Texas teachers should be trained experts in the fields of technology so that Texas students will be college and career-ready individuals by the time they graduate from high school. Data shows us that students have more access to technology than ever before. Most homes have internet access. Many students across the state have internet access literally in the palm of their hands through smart devices such as iPhones. At the very least, school computer labs and public libraries provide every student with at least some level of connectivty. Teachers should model this technology use in connected classrooms through interactive lessons and activities. Students need to be exposed to the productive potential of technology, rather than simply being mere participants in the online social world. The internet is a great place to find information on literally any topic imaginable, and the social networking skills that students develop on their own can be a great avenue into becoming productive and collaborative members of the workforce.
It's vital for our students that teachers provide extensive exposure to a vast area of technological outlets. Students need to learn how to research on their own. They need to learn how to collaborate, both personally and remotely. They need to be able to organize their data and present their findings. Technology provides ways for students to do this like never before.
Teachers need to be trained in order to properly guide the technological learning of students. What's the best way to find reliable information online? How do you safely search the internet, while avoiding websites that may compromise privacy or websites that contain viruses? How do you cite internet sources when you present research? How can I display the results of my findings in an attractive way that's presentable to my audience? What is the proper way to conduct online communication? These are issues that our workforce faces on a daily basis. In order for teachers to prepare students to enter this workforce, teachers themselves need the answers to these questions.
On a side note (and in closing)..I think technology is an amazing tool. So my question, to the State of Texas, is this: why can't my students use it? My students can do amazing things with technology. But, when it's all said and done, everyone of my kids will have to sit down at a desk in April, enclosed by carboard partition, with nothing but a pencil and a scantron. On that day, they have to tell you everything they've learned. No internet, no smart phone apps, not even a calculator. Just a pencil and a scantron. That's how you judge them. And, ultimately, that's how you judge me. Now, I'm not suggesting that the TAKS test or the STAAR test will ever be a collaborative, group effort. But why not connect the academic knowledge that I'm teaching with the technology tools that they have at their disposal? You'll never get a clear picture of what my students can do from a scantron. Let them show you what they can do.
You can see more Blog Posts from Jeremy at http://jviermann.blogspot.com/