I’ve been supporting teachers a lot this summer via technology training. Technology is not my passion; inquiry is my passion. Unfortunately, because I am competent with technology and have been using it in my classroom, more and more teachers keep coming to me asking for help. I find that teachers are hungry for technology instruction – especially from other teachers. Rather than resenting the fact that they want to hear about technology and not inquiry-based instruction, I use the former as a modern Trojan horse for the latter. If technology can get me into teachers’ heads with my ideas about inquiry and differentiation then so be it.
Technology can be a very powerful tool to support inquiry, to differentiate instruction, and for creating more democratic and student-centered classrooms. Technology is the means, not the end. Technology can make student-centered instruction easier for teachers to do.
In a technology-rich and student-centered classroom, students create products that demonstrate their knowledge, rather than taking traditional tests. Product creation inspires in students a need to seek knowledge, to analyze and evaluate information, to synthesize that knowledge to produce a quality product. These products are then easily shared with people outside the classroom, thus raising the stakes for students without needing the artificial construct of grades.
From another perspective, though, the real problem isn’t grade inflation–it’s grades, which by their very nature undermine learning. The proper occasion for outrage is not that too many students are getting A’s, but that too many students have been led to believe that getting A’s is the point of going to school. – Alfie Kohn, The Costs of Overemphasizing Achievement
Students can show knowledge in an infinite variety of ways when the doors of technology are opened to them. The key is that the students are given the freedom to choose the tool and method of demonstrating knowledge, even if that means using no technology at all (I’ve had kids opt to create handmade posters instead of technology infused products and do outstanding work).
If my technology training helps even one classroom to become more student-centered in the process, then I have succeeded.