Do you remember that old David Gates and Bread song “If?” You remember…”If a picture paints a thousand words…then why can’t I paint youuuuuuu?” I thought of that song a while back while I was in a meeting and the presenter asked the audience an interesting question about education: “If we truly believe in collaboration, then why are all our rooms still arranged in rows?”
What a great question!
First, I thought about David Gates and Bread. Then I started thinking about other “If Questions.” So I wrote down a few “If “ questions:
— If we truly believe in collaboration, then why are our rooms still arranged in rows?
— If we always see that technology excites kids when they use it, then why aren’t we using it all of the time?
— If we say that technology is an educational tool, then why do we save technology only for Tuesday’s when we take kids to the lab down the hall?
— If we say that 21st century skills are the wave of the future and what every kid should be learning, then why isn’t every professional development session in the world geared toward these skills?
— If we truly believe that technology is the way kids should be learning, then why isn’t 30 percent of all technology budgets dedicated to professional development?
— If we see trends such as video and audio becoming more and more important in the world of communication, why aren’t we training our students in video and audio?
— If we say that technology should be integrated in all aspects of students learning, then why aren’t we teaching technology connections in art, and PE, in the performing arts?
— If the organizations that advocate educational technology are truly pro-teacher, why not make technology conferences free to attend?
— If we truly believe in project- and problem-based learning, then why are we still lecturing?
— If we want everyone to be using Web 2.0 skills and sites, then why are we leaving so many teachers behind that can’t even use Web 1.0?
So there were a few “if” questions that I came up with. I then wanted to increase the number of people in my conversation. So I blogged about “If” and also got on plurk.com, which is similar to Twitter (but in my mind easier and more fun to use). I asked my buddies on Plurk, mostly teachers, part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN) what their “If” question would be.
Here is a sampling of their “If” questions:
Steve asked: If businesses truly want our students to be prepared for THEIR workforce, why aren’t they beating down the doors and donating tons of technology to schools?
Laura Gibbs asked: If we value our students’ critical thinking skills, why don’t we let them HELP US think critically about educational technology?
Nancy Bosch asked: I think we (those of us in this forum) can say “first half of each question” but many of my classroom teachers have never uttered the words “If we say that technology….” Yikes! I think some of them are still at the Web 0.2 stage.
Chris Prout wondered: If we understand that all children learn differently, then why do we use one standardized test to measure achievement?
Sylvia Martinez asked: If we understand that all children learn differently, then why do we group them by age?
Amy Leonard asked: If we want teachers to truly integrate technology into their curriculum, classrooms and way of doing business, why don’t they have more input in what technologies are appropriate for what they teach rather than what they are trained in being dictated by someone else?
I also received several anonymous “If” questions:
Why aren’t teachers who use technology already given more input in training their peers? Don’t they know best what works?
Why do we normally only hear about or see technology purchased for core subjects, but expect all of our teachers to integrate it?
How can we train teachers to use technology to enhance their classes without expecting them to spend more time on learning how to use or teaching the technology to their students than on their content area?
Why isn’t more campus or district initiated tech training differentiated so that we can meet the needs of the adult learners rather than only targeting the lower to middle areas of their proficiency spectrum?
With all the web 2.0 resources out there, why are we still so dependent on poorly created power point presentations? I just saw a TERRIBLE one today.
If we value technology as a classroom tool, why do we hire teachers with little or no technology skills?
So what is the point of all of this?
There are a lot of people that pooh-pooh the idea of using Twitter-like services such as Plurk in professional settings. I have to disagree. By using Plurk, and Twitter, I have been able to extend my network of learners that I rely on far beyond the confines of my schools, my city, my state. I am using a global network of people to help me not only find the answers to questions, but also to help me ask the questions as well.
I think that a lot of what happens on Twitter and Plurk is commercial in nature, and even Newspapertree has discovered the uses of Twitter to send out messages. But I think the true value of these services is that not only can I talk, but I can listen as well.
So, what is your “If” question? If you would like, you can add it to this Plurk stream: http://www.plurk.com/p/11fsgi
Add your “If” question about education. Check back and see what others have left, from all over the country and world.
As Frasier Crane said: “I’m Listening.”
This originally appeared on my old Intended Consequences blogsite.—TBH