“The texting finger types; and, having sent, powers down.” —What Omar Khayyam might have said if he were living in the 21st century
My very first feature for Internet@Schools magazine appeared in print nearly 8 years ago. Sharing the Vision with Digital Photography related my experiences with incorporating traditional, visual, and technology literacies into an elementary school media center. Eight years didn’t seem so very long ago, nor so very far away, until it dawned on me that the projects described in the article involved a Mavica 3 megapixel camera (floppy disks not included), Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 (Version 10 was released in September of this year), and a group of very enthusiastic fifth graders (all of whom are now attending college). Time and technology do manage to move us along.
It’s a simple fact: In order to grow, we must be willing to grow. After 3 fulfilling decades as a teacher and educational writer, the time has arrived to move into other venues of education and writing. The wonderful folks at Internet@Schools magazine afforded me the privilege of investigating and sharing the ways that educators, students, and administrators, in real schools across the world, embed technology resourcefully and creatively. In my closing column, it seems only right to offer an edited, retrospective sampler of some of the people who so generously shared their work, world, and perspectives and to let you know how they and their work have grown since their stories first appeared.
How Sweet It Is: A Student Speaks
“Education has to be an ‘all the time’ thing in order to work. Giving kids accessibility makes them feel connected. They want to know that they can put information out there when they feel it’s important to be out there and that they can access it when they want it.”
How Sweet It Is (September/October 2010) featured 16-year-old Charlie Burgess and his brainchild, EduSweet. Charlie combined the tools of classroom management with the appeal and connectivity of social networking to develop organizational software for teachers and students.
Now 17, Charlie is a sophomore at the University of South Florida, where he is enrolled in the honors business program. He recently completed an internship in integrative marketing with Dynavistics, a company that customizes software solutions for international corporations.
What’s going on with EduSweet these days? “I’m now into mobile development. I’m developing an app scheduled to come out later this year. It’s called My Feed, and it’s meant to help students keep track of their busy schedules. It includes many of the best features of EduSweet, with a new set of features for students and teachers.”
What’s the biggest payoff in embedding technology into learning? “As a student, I see technology as that thing that draws you into the learning experience, rather than letting knowledge float by you in the classroom. Instead of regurgitating information, students become involved in a process that makes the knowledge stick.”
What’s the biggest challenge? “It’s evolving so quickly. It’s just hard to keep up.”
Predictions about the future of technology in education? “Over the next 5 years, I see ebooks picking up. I see kids taking a lot more of the school experience with them, wherever they are. I believe education will ultimately go mobile.”
Any tech advice for teachers and students? “Don’t get caught up in crazes or the next big thing. You don’t have to jump onto every new technology. You just have to make things work for you and your teaching and learning style. There are a lot of simple solutions out there.”
Recent accomplishments and goals? “I was recently invited to join the board of Createch USF, a student organization dedicated to innovative technology. I’m looking forward to expanding my experiences in international business. I’m launching a new company in 2012, SquareOne Apps. It’s an app development firm specializing in educational and productivity applications for high school and college.”
The Collaborator: An Educational Designer Forges New Connections
“Technology alone does not initiate collaboration. One has to create an environment that promotes critical observation and discussion. The goals have to be clear to everyone, with the understanding that we will only get where we want to go through conversation.”
The Collaborator (July/August 2009) detailed the resources, connections, and planning involved in bringing Chicago’s world-class institutions and specialists to students in rural Illinois via distance learning tools. Formerly with Northwestern University’s Collaboratory Project, Roxana Hadad is currently the director of Math, Science, and Technology at the Chicago Teachers’ Center at Northeastern Illinois University (CTC@NEIU). She is concurrently pursuing a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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