Monday, June 30, 2008

Be Prepared!

d I Y

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Technology in all its forms have fascinated me since I was a child. I am thrilled that the opensource and DIY technologies are not just surviving, they are thriving. I love to see what wonderful possibilities and opportunities are available to teachers, parents and students in this vast World Of Electrons.

Conversations continue on the topic of DIY vs corporate, packaged simulacrums of what is available online....imitation copies that corporations convince administrators and technology directors will be "just as good" as what a teacher and class can create themselves. I strongly disagree.

A twitter colleague, @garageflowers, just cited a blog post on this topic, I Guess I'm Still a Punk.

After reading this blog post, I had to share my comments to the author, @glassbeed, with my readers. Mostly, they relate to a basic tenet of teaching, about being prepared to stand up for what you believe. If you want to support DIY technology, I believe you should be prepared to describe, design and defend it.

Yes, I agree. This was a great post. I love DIY technology, and I have worked diligently to document and explain how teachers can use it effectively in their classes or with students.

I was just thinking about your post when I went to my blog to capture my url and saw that WeatherPixie is down. This is a prime example of the downside of DIY technology. Teachers must prepare for the positive, as well as negative aspects of DIY technology in their classes.

WeatherPixie has been a pivotal widget for teachers and students. The developer of WeatherPixie is not the problem, but the company who owns the server that supports her website had a fire. This was a problem that she couldn't help, but it highlights a problem that tech directors and administrators can cite to keep teachers from using these free online tools. Teachers must be prepared.

Another concern associated with opensource products and online tools is that they are ephemeral. They may be here today and gone tomorrow, for any number of legitimate reasons. That makes it difficult for teachers to really go to the wall arguing for the use of this technology. They must be prepared.

I am saying use this developing technology, but a teacher must be VERY agile and have backup plans in case tools aren't available. Also, teachers should decide how they will console students if their projects are lost. They must be prepared.

It is great to be a DIY tech person, but you have to be prepared;D


Elona Hartjes said...

I agree that you have to be prepared in case the computers act bratty. That puts lots of teachers off. They don't want the hassles.

I cope by having some emergency lesson plans on hand so if the computers or apps aren't working properly, I can just reach into my drawer and pull out my emergency lesson plans and smile.

samccoy said...

Thanks for commenting on my post, Elona. That is a very wise plan, and I am glad to read about the methods you use for planning ahead.

It does seem that some teachers "...don't want the hassles." That is one reason why the school community should have several plans for innovation using technology.

Here are some questions that guide my thinking on what should be in that plan:

*How will this technology fit in our school curriculum?

*What types and quantity of professional development will be required?

*How will we support teachers if and when the technology doesn't work?

There are many other questions, but that is a good place for administrators, teachers, school board members, parents and the community to begin thinking about supporting innovation in our schools.