I have used Microsoft Word since version 5.1 was released in 1992. I’m writing this note right now using version 12.2. Between then and now, the number of functions and features added to this most popular of applications is in the thousands. How many do I utilize? Ten, tops. How many did I learn beyond my own trial and error? Zero.
A similar gross disconnect exists when it comes to the use of edtech. With all apologies to Waldorf schools, it is rare to hear an argument against computing in the classroom anymore. The question of how we do it productively, and more specifically, how we learn to use it productively, is still largely unanswered. How many pieces of hardware have you seen sit unused over the years? How many software applications remained encased in shrinkwrap on the shelf?
Of course, answering these questions is at the core of our editorial mission. Each month in print and every day online, we try to encourage that most vague of phrases—professional development—through the sharing of best practices amongst our readers. This month we have two articles that highlight this attempt. In our special pullout section, contributing writer Ellen Ullman breaks down the options for creating a strategy for learning (“Finding the Right Fit: Which PD Suits Your Teacher’s Needs?”). And in our second installment of the Long Review, we report on how the administration at Village Charter school intends to educate its faculty to embrace new curriculum software holistically. Hopefully, their experience can inspire your own life-long learning. In the meantime, I’m going to check out what this mail merge manager tool is all about.