Saturday, September 29, 2007

Today's News- We Are Behind

Ok, so I read Doug Johnson's latest blog entry which eloquently sums up our challenge in bringing educators into the fold. He offers simple yet wise guidelines for helping to make change happen in our schools. I agree with the WIFM approach but take it back one step further. I have often suggested that a simple approach to helping teachers understand the power of today's technology lies in finding their passion, whether it be scrapbooking, football, or popular culture and introducing them to blogs and wikis that will feed their passion. Being engaged personally is a first step to guiding them to consider its implications for the students in their class- WIFS- what's in for students.

YES, all of us need to feel empowered, to know that our voice is heard. To realize that our ideas are valued. The more we find ways to bring the many stakeholders into the conversation, the better chance we will have to accomplish the awesome task in front of us.

If I hear one complaint more often than another it would be the expectation that teachers are expected to differentiate instruction for all of the students in their classroom, yet in-service programs typically do not take into account that teachers have differing levels of expertise, learning styles, and needs just as their students do. Offering a range of training options is what they want.

But, it was the comment from Malcolm Lambe that drove the point home that we had better get serious about "raising the bar" for change in schools. He points us to a post about 2D Barcodes. The barcodes that appear on all of our grocery store products and are scanned for the purchase price and much more including inventory and personal preferences are 1D barcodes. Well, it seems according to this post that the United States is rather FAR BEHIND is our use of now 2D barcodes, which when scanned hyperlink to internet sites.

According to David Harper these bar codes are being used extensively in Japan and have become part of their everyday life. They can be found just about anywhere- in magazines, outside of restaurants, on coffee cups, on advertisements, food, you name it. Using a phonecam, a picture is taken of the code and then programing within the phone connects you to a web page giving you access to information about the product or service in an instant.

While for many schools, the use of phones in United States schools is a controversial topic and simply often forbidden, other major parts of the world have moved passed the issue and have embraced the questions of how they can be used to improve information retrieval, connections, and communication. It is not a matter of whether we should, it is HOW.

We have the ability to access information at a click through a mobile device, but it has become routine in Japan with 90% of people accessing the web this way according to Scanbuy a New York based maker of 2D barcode software. And Japan is not alone in the use of mobile devices to access the web. But it is not so, here in the United States. Why not? Well, one reason, according to Malcolm Lambe is the fact that 70% of phones with cameras in the US do not even have the software necessary to interpret a 2D bar while 65% of the phones in Japan do. McDonald's will be testing the use of 2D barcode technology in Portugal and Germany. What about the US? What are we waiting for?

For educators, 2D Barcodes aside, it is the explosion of ready access to information at a click from a handheld mobile device that is significant. The teacher's job of passing on information is extinct.
We've been replaced.

Every lesson we teach should be more than the facts. We don't need students who can memorize information. We need critical thinkers, who can analyze and evaluate the flood of information at their fingertips.

So back to professional development. We base our choices on what we are knowledgeable about. If we don't know other possibilities, we will never ask for them. We need to immerse our educators in this type of technology which others across the world are using daily. We need to show them the power it has to transform their daily lives. And we need to engage them in the dialogue of how it might also transform their instruction. And we need to do it NOW because the world has shifted, even if they don't know it.

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1 comment:

  1. Good post Linda. Being someone who is into mlearning I have to say that it is good that Australia is further ahead in mobile phone technology than America but not as advanced as Japan.

    I agree we need to show other educators how they can use these tools in their daily life so they can empower their students with the skills that will help them succeed.

    Although I am beginning to wonder whether we should be spending some time on the Concerns Based Model -- ie examining reasons why they are concerned about buying in -- and then once we have addressed their concerns show them tools that will help their work.