We aren’t even close to being “there” yet!

It has been awhile since I used this blog, but another class at Walden and I find it is necessary to reactivate the blogging brain cells. As anyone can tell from reading any of my books, I have a lot to say and as my publisher has told my husband, “you’ll never be able to stop her from writing, will you?”

This first blog in the present series is not in completion of an assignment, but simply a set of observations. Please indulge me and if you reread any of my previous blogs, the one called “My Personal Learning Theory?” will tell you a lot about me.

A previous course I took at Walden was about Qualitative Research. The professor had asked us to find various journal articles based on such research and use it in a class discussion post. An article in the Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Technology drew my attention and what the researchers found was quite interesting.

The heart of the article was information and communications technology (ITC) integration into classrooms. Malaysia has a goal that ICT will be fully implemented into schools “in order to make Malaysia a fully developed nation by 2020 (Narinasamy, Ilhavenil & Wan Mamat, Wan Hasmah, 2013, p. 44).” Imagine that, Malaysia wants to do what the United States should have done years ago and they want it by 2020.

What the researchers found when they looked at the problems of implementation and integration was a bottleneck that plagues many schools. Teachers, administrators, and teacher education establishments are not doing their job to make this happen.

Given enough money, schools around the U. S. could be awash in the latest and greatest technology. However, when you have teachers who either won’t or can’t use the stuff, it gets pushed aside and out comes the old lesson plans from the filing cabinet to be used over and over again. Students suffer by being denied the integration of educational technology into their classroom experience.

Administrators are also laggards on the road to innovation. Schools have become social engineering petri-dishes and nationally accountable ‘one-size-fits-all’ testing facilities which administrators fear will reflect badly on their management skills. Disruption of any kind and especially implementation of forward thinking technology in the classroom is beyond the skill sets of many who now hold these positions.

However, perhaps the most pernicious of all the culprits in this failure to the future is the college/university that teaches teachers. How forward thinking are these institutions? Do they incorporate, teach the use of, and prepare the future teachers of America in using anything more advanced than a whiteboard? Or are they learning to use gamification, experiencing virtual reality labs that teach everything from dissecting a frog in biology to the kinds of aquatic life near a steam vent, perhaps they have experienced sitting in the Globe Theatre while Hamlet is being performed?

Children learn in different ways and at different speeds. We all know that, but we are still following the theorists who gave us the roadmaps to education for the future and we remain mired in the past. Innovation, change, and clearing out the old to make way for the new are not easy. In many instances, jobs have been protected to the advantage of the practitioner to the detriment of the students.

No, we are not “there” yet. Until there is a realignment away from protecting the past, foraging on to the future will be hard if not impossible. Sugata Mitra showed us you could put a computer in a wall and children who didn’t know how to read or even the language the computer used, could teach themselves and others how it worked within a short time of its installation (Mitra, 2013). Please tell me we can, at least, do that much!

References

Mitra, S. (2013). The child-driven education. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html.

Narinasamy, Ilhavenil, & Wan Mamat, Wan Hasmah. (2013). Utilization of ICT by Moral Education Teachers. The Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Technology, 1(4), 1-10.

 

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