I attended the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC) and I have to say I have been caught off guard! I consider myself pretty knowledgeable regarding technology in the classroom and how it is used! I was on the cutting edge of using technology in the classroom, I brought BYOD to my school two years ago, I trained and rolled out iPads for all my teachers, etc. I really thought I had a handle on educational technology.
A few weeks ago I even showed this video at a faculty meeting that caused quite a ruckus in our faculty because of the premises in the video!
When I showed this video at the staff meeting our teachers were all in a buzz, convinced that educational reforms weren’t going to hit home and we didn’t need to gear our instruction toward individual children, but rather still “teach to the masses”. We had a great discussion over the future of education and what our classrooms would look like in the future. The ADHD discussions from the video were intense and very thoughtful, as teachers definitely had strong feelings about the implications of medicating (that is for another post). We talked about the “Date of Manufacture” line in the video and why we group our students by age, rather than interest. I don’t believe in everything in the video but I certainly think the video gave excellent food for thought. We even decided that we are going to watch more video like this at our staff meetings because the video stimulated conversation and the more we discuss issues as a staff the more we will become aligned in what we believe. The more aligned we are in our beliefs, the stronger we are as a staff.
AND THEN, I came to this conference and was completely blown away. When I showed that video to the teacher’s I thought individualized education was YEARS away, but coming here I realize that individualized education is ALREADY HERE! I know I keep writing in caps, but I am truly shocked at what I have discovered at this conference.
I have been to this conference for many years and nearly did not come this year because I thought it would be more of the same – discussions about BYOD and how to use iPads in the classroom. While there is some of that, I have sensed a real shift in education – the shift to online and blended learning. I didn’t realize how close this was to reality until coming to this conference.
I live in Georgia and according to the Keeping Pace report we are really ahead in our approach to online education. It is law in GA to provide students with an online alternative if the class that they want to take is not offered in their school. This service is provided through the Georgia Virtual School. The school has to provide the class and the time during the day to take that class! I was shocked! I didn’t know this was the case. As a private school, my school will need to keep pace with the offerings of the public school. This is a game changer for us. Luckily, my school is already researching these options now.
Also, new to me was the concept of MOOCs. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOC’s can be offered by anyone and they are usually sponsored by colleges and universities and they are FREE! I was amazed at the number of MOOC’s available and ANYONE can join and participate in them. I am going to participate in this MOOC by Kennesaw State University this winter and it is FREE, I will receive PLU and I could also potentially receive graduate course credit. I am sure there will be a small fee for the graduate course credit portion, but can you imagine how MOOC’s will change education?
Even in elementary school I can see big implications for online and blended learning. I think this type of learning will first impact elementary school with our students that need enrichment and remediation. I can see a Orton Gillingham certified teacher being made available to more students that need reading help through and online provider. Our babies that need explicit reading instruction, taught by a highly trained teacher, would be more available through online resources. I can also see a teacher online for our babies that need enrichment. Our students that need more of a challenge could gather together with other like-minded students and be enriched by a robotics teacher or a higher level math teacher. I think then after these needs are filled we will see the online and blended learning trickle down to the average classroom.
I think this opens up amazing opportunities for our students. I also do not worry that this is going to replace me in the classroom, but I do know that my job may look different in the future. We know the single most important difference in learning is a highly skilled teacher – so I think as educators we are all safe, but I think our role and what it looks like may drastically change over the new few years!