Tonight I attended SAAS (a neighboring grade 6-12 school)’s technology open house with a few colleagues. I always find it refreshing to visit what other middle and high school students are doing as it often acts as another way to think about what we need to prepare our kids for. It was a great way to see how both teachers and students used technology to enhance learning and make it more engaging. It also reminded me that wishing for an interactive whiteboard was one thing, but knowing how to use it to teach effectively was another. Also, many of these teachers created their own content for these interactive sites and as one knows, that not only takes a lot of time, but also know how. Many teachers there had webpages for their students. Some used Moodle, an open source community based course management system, or had blogs or websites of their own outside their school’s website environment. Here’s an example of a 6th grade teacher’s history website/blog (created using edublogs) that includes interactive SMART activities that he built. When I went to click on those activities it downloaded a .notebook file which I couldn’t open immediately. I had to look it up and figure out what it was. That led to more scanning and reading and searching and clicking and scanning, etc. I’m excited that my school is looking into many options regarding technology in general, but I’m afraid that I need to do a lot more homework before taking the plunge.
There are a plethora of interactive sources shared by teachers out there, but not all will suit an individual teacher’s needs. Also, not all interactive file formats are interchangeable. Like using text books or any resources off a shelf, teachers will need to customize and/or create their own in order to make learning meaningful for their students. There’s a lot to learn. Hopefully, with most things tech these days, the learning curve isn’t too bad and there isn’t any code to learn.
Here’s SAAS’s official photo gallery. Notice they use a site outside their school’s site. Ease of use perhaps?
All in all, it was a great evening of learning on my part. My guess is that by the time I figure out how to teach effectively with newer technology (where most of the equipment like interactive white boards, projectors, etc. are tethered or fixed to walls or power cords) many will have switched to more mobile tools (kindle, ipads, etc.).