Shift Happens


Probably one of the most frustrating things in education is when small changes create entire paradigm shifts.  It’s frustrating not because the shift is occurring, but because not many people acknowledge or adopt the shift.  For example, our district has adopted the Google Apps for Education.  It is a very versatile package that simulates Microsoft Office.  One of the small changes that this creates is that now students can collaborate online and they can store their information in the cloud.

In theory, this means that English teachers can access Turnit In and check for plagiarism very easily.  It also means students can share their documents wirelessly with the teacher and go paper free.   However, I become boggled when I hear stories of teachers who still require their students to print out essays and papers for hand grading.

In this sort of paradigm shift, the students adopt the changes quickly.  The teachers however, have to be presented with the advantages as additional options for them to use in the classroom.  In video game terms, the student explores what all the game avatars can do and find tutorials to see what else they can do.  The teachers however, have to be told what each individual move is and how to perform it.  While neither is a “correct” way of implementing the technology, I wonder about the implementation of Human-Computer-Interaction logistics for increased end-user friendliness.

Does this mean that while we might have changed the way some of us are teaching, we haven’t changed how we think?  In other words, are there teachers out there trying to teach a new format of problem solving without adopting it themselves?  Maybe this is what holds us back in education.  Not a shift in content or pedagogy, but a lack of shift in educator thinking and modeling.

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