Although it is true that technology can present challenges, it can also provide wonderful possibilities that were not previously available. It is important, however, to identify these opportunity and take advantage of them to our curriculum. It is also important to assure that the technology we are applying is adding to the learning experience, expanding the boundries. It should not only make things easier for us in the class room, it should be making things possible. For example, if we are lucky enough to have a Smartboard in our classroom, it should be employed to enhance lessons in ways that just a chalkboard would not. It should engage students. If, on the other hand, we are just reflecting images on it that could be reflected in any other surface, we are not taking full advantage of it.
This year, schools in our district have been lucky to receive a video conferencing system from LifeSize. This sistem allows sudents, teachers and administrators to conferences with other campuses, and indeed other institutions. It is a very useful tool for making the CONNECTIONS that can expose students to people and ideas they would not have the opportunity otherwise to meet. At the risk of sounding somewhat cliche, this technology indeed makes the world seem like a smaller place. As a student in 5th grade, I remember having a pen pal in the Bronxs through school. The experience was very valuable to me, as I learned about life in a different region of the United States, a place that as I child I could only dream of visiting. But, how much more meaningful woutd that experience have been if I would have met my friend Vito from the Bronx in a face-t0-face conference? Our students will have the opportunity to find out.
We have already begun to test the system out. I have been to a couple of training and have begun thinking of possible projects. Just yesterday, our class had a brief conference with Ms. Parra's gifted glass at Cielo Vista Elementary. We were able to introduce the students to one another using this HD equipment. My students afterwards were excited about having the opportunity to meet GT students at other campuses. Ms. Parra and I have planned a conferencing project for the fall, as well as another one for the spring.
So, had technology complicated our lives? Perhaps it has. But, if it has added complexity, it has done so in both sense of the word. In some ways, yes, learning new technology adds difficulty and extra effort. But, in other ways, it has also adds diversity and intricacies that we ourselves never experienced as students. If used properly, it can open new doors and expand our horizons. I for one am exited about the prospects technology provides, and I am willing to spend the extra effort to learn new methods to implement in my classroom.