From the Principal's Office: Necessary

3/5/2013 12:00:00 AM
WynnAlishaScience[I often say, "Technology must be ubiquitous, necessary and invisible." I thought I'd take a little time to explore each item in that triptych. My first post was Ubiquitous. Here is my second in the series. -- Chris]

Technology must be necessary.

That seems like an easy one. It is hard to think of a part of American life that is not touched by technology today outside of our schools. And yet, most students today do not feel that a laptop or a tablet is absolutely necessary to their success inside of school. This despite over 68% of American households having broadband internet at home. (http://www.esa.doc.gov/Reports/exploring-digital-nation-computer-and-internet-use-home) But for some reason, we continue to expect kids to dutifully take notes in an analog fashion and cut themselves off from the world outside the walls of the classroom while they aren’t.

It is time to admit that technology must be a necessary component to learning in school. Let’s use something as simple as note taking as an example. Why would we make students handwrite notes in a classroom anymore? Today, when students have the ability to use a tool like Evernote or Google Docs, notes can be compiled, reorganized, and shared. The ability to filter and the ability to search means that students can reference and use their notes more quickly and powerfully than before.  That doesn’t mean that every note has to be taken online, in fact I enjoy using the Evernote moleskin to take notes the old-fashioned way and then digitize them, but the idea that students could  create an electronic repository of their notes, their ideas, their work, should not be revolutionary anymore. It should simply be necessary. It should simply be done.

But that is the low-hanging fruit. Technology is necessary for reasons far greater than a better way to take notes or write a paper. Technology is necessary in our schools because it allows our students to see their work is authentic in the world. No longer is student work simply a one-to-one dialogue between teacher and student. Students can publish their work, students can take part in communities of practice both inside and outside of their immediate school community, And students can see their work is adding to the larger dialogue about topics that are of importance to them. The first time a student at SLA received an email from someone asking a follow-up question about a project, his vision of himself as a scholar completely changed. Every time students see their videos make the rounds on twitter, they understand they have created a vision of the world that is shared. When students use social media to reach out to experts in their fields, students develop their ability to inquire deeply and interact with adults who are further along on that path of inquiry. When students use technology in a science classroom to do powerful experiments or in an engineering class to make their idea become real, students no longer are only learning science, learning engineering, they are becoming scientists and engineers.

Technology becomes necessary when students see it as vital to the way they learn, when they cannot imagine doing the work without it. It is necessary when it allows them to do things, learn things, create things and share things like never before. Technology becomes necessary when it makes the work students do more authentic, more empowering and shared to the world. And, as educators, isn’t that how we want our students to view the artifacts of their learning? Technology is necessary not just because it is vital to the lives our students — and our society — leads outside of school. It is necessary because it can be married to progressive pedagogy and used to help students become fully realized scholars of the world.

cross-posted at practicaltheory.org/blog.

Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. that was recognized by Ladies Home Journal as one of the Ten Most Amazing Schools in the US and was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School in 2009 and 2010. Chris won the Lindback Award for Excellence in Principal Leadership in the School District of Philadelphia in April 2012, and has been honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his work in education reform. In June 2010, Chris was named as one of the “30 Most Influential People in EdTech” by Technology & Learning Magazine. Read more at his blog, http://practicaltheory.org/blog. 

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...

Boston