I will acknowledge right off the bat that I know that I have a unique situation with my position at ESU 10, and that the greatest benefit I have is time. The second benefit is that I am surrounded by knowledgeable colleagues that are patient with me as I present some grand ideas.
And the grandest idea I have is that technology can empower teachers. I think technology can strengthen what teachers do best: teach.
Before I talk about the technology, let me address a deep philosophy of a classroom. Teachers are experts. Experts in many different fields to handle a classroom, but especially in their subject. But most of the time teachers have to rely on a textbook, a book of worksheets and assessments. Let alone the idea of standardized testing (that will be another blog). These tools are good tools, and many teachers fuse their expertise with these options to provide their students great lessons.
But what if the teacher produced more of the tools for their classroom? What if teachers actually got to showcase their expertise? What if teachers were empowered to do what they love? To teach. Imagine the energy and impact this would have on the students, the teacher, the school as a whole. Empowering.
One of the ways this can happen is the new iBook Author, from Apple, which allows you to create digital interactive textbooks. To be honest, this application is easy to use. The templates range from basic design to more creative layouts, but all one has to do is type and drag-and-drop files. Teachers can add their presentations right to a page. There is a question widget for student review and other cool options. Teachers can write their own textbooks.
Another interesting approach is web app development. What do students have with them at all times? Right…their cell phones. I know that they are not all smart phones, but more and more are. But a web app is designed to work on a web browser and as an app, so teachers can create content that bridges that gap. And it is getting easier to create web apps, whether you know how to program or not. iWebKit is a framework that I used to create my first study app for the book The Natural. You do need to know some basic programing but much of the time is spent on creating content because the code is provided. Even if you don’t know any programing, services like Wix Mobile allows you to create web apps with no coding.
Technology can empower teachers to produce more of the content of their classroom. Technology can change the dynamics of the role of a teacher back to what teachers love to do: teach.
I know this is a grand idea. For this to happen teachers need time, support, and the technology in their classroom. But I would rather struggle toward a grand idea then stay in place and wonder what could have been. And I am always willing to help if I can, because any struggle is easier together.