Sunday, November 9, 2014

Impact of Technology on Communication and Collaboration

Another reflective piece from my Leading Edge - Digital Educator certification. I felt like this one was worth sharing. The prompt is italicized.

How might the communications and collaborations of a digital educator differ from those of a traditional classroom teacher? In what ways might they stay the same? Does technology change the way we interact, or just enhance it?

The goals of communication and collaboration for a digital educator still attempt to achieve the same goals as those of a traditional classroom teacher. The end product that we want is still the same: what is best for our students. Any new form of technology or pedagogical method needs to be measured against that yardstick.

The content of the conversations is probably relatively similar as well. Discussions of best practices, of how to engage students, of how to deal with classroom challenges are timeless: teachers always have and always will have these conversations. Before I was a digital educator - whatever that term means - this was the content of the conversations that I was having with team members at my site. We pored over student work, we designed projects and assessments, we shared successes and failures.

Now that I'm a digital educator, I there are subtle changes in the content of the conversations. I don't talk about demonstrating mastery of content anymore with members of my PLN. I don't talk about tests, mine or those from the state or district, anymore. This is due to a shift in my own pedagogy. Much of this shift is attributable to my first couple years on social media.

These days I'm more likely to be talking about cultivating student curiosity, or 1:1 rollout plans, or just saying hello to friends I've made via social media that I come across online. The content of the conversations has changed.

I'm not sure if technology has changed the way I interact or enhanced the way I interact with my fellow educators. I do know this though: being a digital educator has allowed me to see into a TON of classrooms that I never had access to as a traditional classroom teacher. I can access more diverse pedagogy, have my ideas and conceptions of the classroom challenged in ways I couldn't fathom, and talk to pedagogical experts from across the US and the world because I am a digital educator.

My classroom is also a far more public place. My class website holds all the materials that we've used, allowing for teachers anywhere to access it and use and modify what I've created. Student work is there as well and is shared for all to see: peers, parents, other classrooms and teachers - anyone can access the materials that my students have created.

I am also more able to share the thoughts I have around pedagogy, assessment, and the role of school because I started blogging about 2.5 years ago. By taking the time and think through and reflect on what I believe in, my understanding of my classroom is far more precise than it was before I started blogging.  

Sorry - this was kind of a lengthy response, and in the end I'm not sure I answered the second prompt about how technology changes communication and collaboration. I'll try to sum all of it up in a sentence. Technology has profoundly changed the way I view my classroom and school in general. It has enhanced my ability to share my ideas and get feedback on my practice.

In short, being a digital educator has changed the what I do in my classroom and who has access to my classroom.