Goochland County Public Schools provide enormous open windows into what goes on in our classrooms and around our campuses. Our websites, maintained and updated by a team of media specialists, guidance counselors, and instructional technology personnel, strive to be up to date, informative and dynamic. Our blogging initiative, recognized nation-wide as a monumental effort and a leap forward in the use of the read/write web in the field of education, keeps parents appraised of what goes on in each individual classroom. Furthermore, teachers are taking advantage of these websites to provide instructional assistance and to champion the successful efforts of student learning.
I value working in a division that leverages the innovative use of read/write technologies online. Sprinkled among the information presented on blogs and websites throughout our school division, you can find evidence of all our other uses of technology in education. Student artifacts produced using FrameByFrame, ComicLife, Scratch, iMovie, GarageBand, and many others can be seen regularly. Mentions of Moodle and Google Apps are everywhere. These two online tools, acquired at no cost to the school division, facilitate collaboration and allow students to work at their own pace, at any time, from anywhere.
By using all of these tools we are helping students achieve towards our local, state, and national standards. But educational technology also helps students develop habits of digital citizenship and twenty-first century skills. Wikis, collaborative documents, and anytime/anywhere connections–these are the buzzwords you’re hearing in the hallways of today’s successful businesses and organizations. But what’s new today is old tomorrow. Living digitally is living within a culture of change. The train keeps moving.
Everyone can see what the technology can do for our teachers and students, but not the time and effort that goes into making the technology available. Finding, acquiring, and learning these tools takes time. Tools that don’t have a monetary cost attached to them, such as Moodle, Alice, Scratch, WordPress, and others we commonly use, have a drawback: no sales person often translates into no tech support person, or no instructional expertise. We become our own support team, our own experts. We rely on each other, online forums, and user groups to help us find solutions.
Instructional technology doesn’t just happen. Effective uses of technology in education require much more than projector bulbs and charged batteries. We could just focus on what’s already here, on what we already know how to use. But that is not possible when working with technology. We must always move forward.
If we’re not moving forward, we’re falling behind. As I reflect on this past year, I also see ways we can improve. We are also going to have to adjust. But these challenges require leadership and adaptation. Be on the lookout, around the corner… we’ve come far, and we still have great places to go!