The Journey Begins: A Vision of Integrated Technology

August 4, 2009 at 4:08 am 1 comment

After a few quick logistics (how to get wireless etc.), Mark Salkind (head of school) kicked off the symposium providing us with context and a framework for the journey that was embarking. Urban is a  high school (9-12)  of about 350 students and 50+ teachers. They strive to be for inclusivity as they embrace the diversity of the heart of San Francisco, their location. This diversity extends beyond ethnicity as they also seek to include the diversity defined by approaches to learning.

As Mark continued to share about the school and its mission, he used what I believe has got to be one of the best quotes of the day. He was talking about the diversity of learning and how Friedman talked about people in their workplace needing to learn how to learn. One way that Urban does this is through trips out to their community where the learning is in place. This “pedagogy of place” was the money quote of the morning as it speaks volumes to their philosophy of learning.

This is Urban’s 8th year as a laptop school. While they were an Apple Distinguished School in 2007-2008, the transition was slow and deliberate. Talk of how this was done at Urban became a recurring theme throughout the day. In essence, they started with their mission and what it means to teach and learn. Otherwise, they started with their broad goals and kept the focus off of the technology. The realization that “digital tools could be powerful to put into student’s hands for teaching and learning” meant that they needed to see how this technology could transform the learning taking it beyond the classroom.

Several items were obvious to the school as they started this journey…

  • Technology provided ways to communicate with each other as well as the world in ways never before possible.
  • The classroom now could extend beyond the classroom walls and even the walls of the school as students and faculty collaborate.
  • The access to information was far greater than any other time in history.

While the school is obviously a technically rich learning environment, the “teach no tech skill before its time or need”. This again was echoed throughout the day as it rapidly became obvious that the focus was not on the technology but on the pedagogy for learning and how technology enhances and improves that experience. In other words, there are not “technology classes”. In fact, it was argued that the students might say there are no “technology projects”. It is not about learning the technology but about allowing the technology to become transparent to the learning process. Thus was born the idea of seamless integration. By de-emphasizing technology, you make technology normal. “Normalize the digital tool, make it natural”.

So how do you do this you ask? How do you make this transition? Here are a few items to consider.

The head is the catalyst as the schools public leader (I like this as it implies that there are private or internal leaders as well. Read Seth Godin’s Tribes and you will understand)

  • Relate the changes to benefits and the school mission
  • Get the board onboard
  • Minimize teacher mandates for use early on.
  • Use student/teacher leadership to help move the school forward
  • Establish ad deliberate pace (Pace yourself). Urban tool about 3 years to transition to becoming a laptop school.
  • Minimize concurrent large scale initiatives and allow for the transition to take place.

So with this framework we transitioned to the rest of the morning presentations which will follow.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Live Blogging Day 1 of Integrated Technology Symposium at the Urban School in San Francisco (Starts at 9am PDT) Extending Oral Practice Within and Beyond the Classroom

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Reynolds-Anthony Harris  |  August 4, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Great start . loved the money quote . currently starting an implementation … appreciate the advice to “minimize teacher mandates” the choice of the word “minimize” is quite useful.

    question: Do we really have time to take 3 years to transition to a lap top school?

    Reply

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