When I decided to pursue my Master’s degree in Educational Technology, I found that when I shared the news with the people around me, that I received more “push back” than I would have ever anticipated. Family members and colleagues were proud and excited for me that I was furthering my education, but many of them had questions about the focus of my studies.
“Well what are you going to do with that?”
“Does that mean you’re trying to get out of the classroom?”
“How are you planning on using that?”
To answer these questions briefly, I can confidently say that I’m going to do a lot with it, my plans are to stay in the classroom, and I’m going to use this degree in many many ways.
However, this wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I just stopped right there, so let me elaborate.
In my opinion, the world is way more different than it ever has been in the past. With the way that technology is moving, the world looks differently than it did when I was a kid in the 90s, when I was in middle school in the early 2000s, and when I was a high school senior in 2010. Not to sound like a crabby old lady, but when I was the age of the students I teach, I didn’t really even know what the internet was. Now? “Students in the K-12 system have never known a world without the Internet” (Richardson, 2013).
These students are growing up in a world where everything they need to know can be searched on the device in their pocket. These students have the resources they need to find any information they could want to know at home, but those same resources are stripped from them at school. “They expect to use their technology to get their answers…except in school. In school, we ask them all sorts of questions that they could answer with their phones or laptops, but we don’t let them” (Richardson, 2013). For these reasons, we need to evaluate the ways we use technology in our classrooms.
These students sitting in our classrooms today are not the same kids sitting in classrooms 10 years ago. I would know, I was one of those students. Ten years ago, I was a high school freshman. We had a computer lab that my teacher would take a class trip to so we could type our papers. When we were assigned video projects, I had to ask my dad to help me record on his camcorder. I had a flip phone and an iPod Nano in my backpack. Take a look in any classroom today and you will most likely see Chromebooks or iPads, Elmo projectors and Smartboards. Technology is at our fingertips in 2017, and it doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down anytime soon.
To answer the question of why I decided to pursue this Educational Technology degree, the times are changing and we have to change with them. Kids are not the same as they were 10 years ago, so we can’t expect school to look like it did 10 years ago. The world doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. “If we continue to see schools as the place where our children go to master a narrow list of content, knowledge and skills that were originally defined almost 150 years ago, we risk putting those kids out into the world with little idea of how to take advantage of the explosion of learning opportunities that now exist” (Richardson, 2013).
So… what now? Richardson says, “I think the first step is that educators have to reexamine their own learning practice and move toward becoming more networked and connected themselves” (2013). For me, learning more about the technology world and how to bring it into my classroom is my first step. I need to connect with my students in this world that they are already so connected to themselves. As an educator, I’m realizing more and more that being open minded and willing to take risks is key in evolving yourself. A simple mindset shift can go a long way.
At the end of last summer, I remember hearing someone at a PD session say, “These kids are coming whether you like it or not. So, you either get on the bus, or you get hit by it.” I feel that saying holds true in this situation too. These kids are coming to our classes more and more connected to their world each year. So, you either become more and more disconnected with them, or you embrace and roll with it.
I don’t know about you… but me? I’m already waiting at the bus stop.
Richardson, W. (2013, February 17). Why School? TED ebook author rethinks education when information is everywhere. Retrieved July 19, 2017, from http://blog.ted.com/why-school-ted-ebook-author-rethinks-education-when-information-is-everywhere/
Images: iPod Nano