Thursday, March 3, 2016

Moving Toward Techess: It's a Pay Me Now, Pay Me Later Situation.

Still from A Beautiful Mind
Many teachers that I know are among the most organized people on the planet of earth. They somehow manage to organize 7 subject/periods worth of materials neatly and orderly, think through routines for their classroom procedures, have a time/place for everything, and can see days, weeks, months in advance all the while dealing with 25 plus individual little people called students and the unique challenges that each one bring to the classroom. It is really nothing short of miraculous that these individuals aren't filling boards full of rantings, plans, and other thoughts, that we won't mention here, which cross their brain ala A Beautiful Mind.

Technology can certainly help in a plethora of ways. One of the ways is that there are less physical materials to get lost in the shuffle from point A --> B. One thing I firmly believe is that technology can help you manage your stuff if you develop systems. Something I told my students when I was in the classroom and tell my teachers now is, "Everything in life is a pay me now, pay me later situation." There's a lot of meaning behind this saying to me, in this case I mean, you can develop a system for delivery of materials through technology which will take upfront work on your part to create (I can offer assistance of course) or you can continue to use your current system of running to the Xerox machine X times a week and pay in an incremental basis.

.gif from Office Space
Think of it like leasing on a car vs purchasing a car. When you lease a car you're paying for it over a period of time and you continue to pay for it until the lease is up, typically trading it in for the new
model and get a new lease, i.e. paying for a car for the rest of your life, as well as abiding by the dealer's rules for that lease typically limiting your use. Whereas when you purchase a car, you may need to save upfront to put the money down on the car, but once you pay at the dealer that car is yours to use stipulation free for as long as you desire. I don't know if this is the perfect analogy but I and teachers I've shared it with find it to be a pretty good one. I enjoy my freedom and I don't like being holden to anything!

That being said, just like a teacher needs to prepare and check their physical materials, it's a best practice to do the same with your virtual materials. Make sure the site that you are using is up, make sure the webmaster hasn't changed the site overnight without your know, make sure student log-ins are working correctly. I'm not suggesting that teachers need to check every detail every day, because I know that there is not time for that in a teacher's world. But just like the "Pay me now, pay me later" states you can check before class time or be surprised during class when something doesn't go the way you wanted it to and try to adapt on the fly. Again I understand things can go wrong between the time a teacher check in the morning and the time a teacher uses the tool mid-morning, I understand that teachers need things to work because they don't have time to monitor X, Y, and Z all the time. We are talking about prep best practices and time displacement in this post. Is it better to beholden to a Xerox machine on a daily or weekly basis OR to have your materials at your fingertips whenever you want and make changes with a few moves of your fingers?

From: http://teacherkayyi.blogspot.com/2013/03/tpack.html
For technology to be successful, it needs to be part of the culture of the classroom and well planned out. Teachers definitely have the well planned out portion down pat! Making it a part of the classroom culture is different for everyone, certainly, but the most success I have seen teachers and students have with Technology Integration is when it is used regularly because it is no longer some Beautiful Mind system in the student or teacher's eyes, it is simply the planned routine of the room. Once a teacher has a framework like this in place, they can scale things up by using all the features of apps, App Smashing, and getting the most out of the deep end of the SAMR pool. A well thought out plan like this moves us closer to that center portion of the TPACK model Venn diagram, where we like to visit more often than not.

To get to this desired location and make EdTech part of our culture, we must pay now in the form of time. Easier said than done with all the things a teacher has to do. Right? Right! In a future post, I will talk about the way that I am trying to help teachers pay now, instead of pay later and forever.

Until then, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you #edtech on! ~ Ryan