By Terra Tarango, President of SDE
Don’t you love it when life throws you random, unrelated experiences at a singular point in time allowing you to make a connection that is uniquely meaningful to you? Well, that happened to me this week.
First of all, it’s ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) week and educators (including myself) are a little punch drunk on the incredible learning opportunities new technology affords. Walking the exhibit hall at ISTE is a bit of an out-of-body experience, at once inspirational and intimidating. After main-lining a buffet of digital innovations—some just glitzy, others pure genius—for an entire week, there’s simply no denying that when teachers are open to and sufficiently trained in educational technologies, the walls of their classroom disappear, creating a powerful learning environment, grander than any generation before.
And then I attended a lecture by Susan Maushart, author of The Winter of Our Disconnect. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, Susan pulled the plug on herself and her three wired teenagers for 6 months, and lived to tell the tale. Her enlightening and hilarious recount of the experience brought me down from my ISTE high, but in a good way. She added something to the discussion that seems sorely lacking in the ed tech discourse: balance.
I share this with you just to remind you that wherever you fall on the spectrum of digital deftness, you (and your students) can benefit from forcing yourself to the other side from time to time. If you’re a staunch advocate of 1:1 computing, virtual classrooms, and flipped lessons, I commend you. But don’t forget to carve out some space in your classroom to lay down your digital drug of choice and have students connect with “RL” (real life). If you’re a firm proponent of banning cell phones and believe technology turns your students into mindless drones, I get it. But remember that this is the world your students come from, and let them take you gently into their world.
What will you do to push yourself across the digital divide and seek balance?