Now that we are well into fall and the pitter patter of little minds have returned to schools, we think to ourselves “seriously where did the summer go?” My theory is that we only get so many hours of light, so in the summer because we get twice as much light, time moves twice as fast. In the winter, lacking light, each minute takes twice as long to tick. That is why it seems like winter lasts forever and summer but a brief moment.
Now apply that to education. Educators know that a student’s school years are really the student’s summer: bright, hot, short, and very fast. But to our students the educational year can feel like winter, where the minutes can take hours…especially in that class! You know the one, that class with that teacher that does that thing… However what makes the summer (and one hopes school) such an exciting time is not just the extended sunlight but rather what you do in the daylight (Or in the case of northern Alaska… nightlight). If education is the fast sunshine of summer than what we do in the classroom needs to be enough to keep us through the darker winter
The theme of the 2016 Alaska Society for Technology in Education Conference is What If: IT is Possible?… which I hope gives us the chance to examine our methods . So many times we hear “I would innovate and change my teaching in the classroom if I only had… (Insert Technology, Educational tool, or Hip New Idea here)” but rarely do we hear the unsaid follow up to that “…So instead I am going to just keep doing the same thing I was doing before even though I know that I could be better.” I.T. is much the same way for educators and non-educators alike, the race is always on to bring technology into classrooms or revolutionize curriculum. We have all been affected by what I call the “Crow Effect” we are obsessed with BSO’s (Bright, Shiny, Objects) and we race to show off our devices even if we don’t really know what they do. “Hey guys I just bought an iBSO it broadcasts in the UV Color “Sparkly” and is powered by a stable Black Hole. …Cool can I see it?… No it is at home on my table I am not sure what it does and it is too heavy and expensive to actually carry around…” Speaking of crows, I am not sure that I want to get into an intelligence test with our feathered friends either. Since in the real world crows are considered to be one of the smartest creatures on Earth and will make and use complicated tools and tricks to get access to BSO’s which in themselves may have no purpose. Alaskan adult’s go to the store and buy “black-out curtains” to keep out the sunlight, then go to the doctor and get prescribed large doses of Vitamin D…which we could get if we didn’t have the black-out curtains…
But we as educators’ are not worrying about the adults yet (We will but one step at a time.) After all give students an unknown device and given enough time, they will definitely figure out a way to disrupt class with it. Technology is like a car, anyone could get one and drive all the way to the location of the accident. It takes a teacher familiar with a car and lots of guided practice to get anywhere else.
This year’s ASTE Conference is for new ideas, dreams, and anything but the same. So this year leave the If Only’s and move to What If’s because really then the only question that really matters is “If IT is possible… then will I do IT?