DAILY INSIGHT: Swimming with tech

By Trevor Hope, CIO Advisor

I recently have had the pleasure of accompanying my young twins to swim classes. They are 3 years old, so my wife and I have to actually get in the pool with them, along with the teacher and the other students and their parents.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of explaining that goes along with teaching young children to swim. Most of the teaching is from the instructor to the parents, and then we, along with our children, feebly attempt to duplicate whatever swim move the instructor has demonstrated in front of us with her doll. The instructor is a great swimmer, I can tell, and she knows what children need to know and do in order to swim at a young age. She just has trouble passing along the information. She has no teaching background as far as I can tell. We could be taking a class from Michael Phelps, but if he has no background in teaching, he would not be able to pass along the knowledge either.

The same holds true for almost anything, especially technology in the classroom. Many educators, especially administrators, assume that because someone is “good with tech” that he or she will be able to incorporate it into their classroom teaching. If he or she is a good teacher, that is a safe assumption. If he or she is not a good teacher, good luck.

Simply knowing a lot about technology does not equate to effective teaching with technology. I would much rather give a master teacher with a limited background in technology a classroom set of laptops to incorporate into her teaching than an average teacher with great tech skills. Technology can make a good teacher great, but it can make a bad teacher horrible as well.

I hope in our next swimming class we get an instructor with a teaching background, even if he or she is less of a swimmer; I think the results will speak for themselves.

Trevor Hope is director of technology at Mount Prospect School District 57 in Illinois. Follow him on Twitter as @trevhope.