A couple of things related to the SMART board sessions I led this week....
First, none of the teachers at this event brought laptops or seemed to have mobile devices. A few had iPhones. This was a second grade conference, not a tech conference, so that isn't a shocker necessarily, but the fact that some teachers/schools don't see a device as a professional need is interesting. This is also probably exacerbated by funding issues, I would think.
Most teachers in my sessions had interactive whiteboards installed in their classrooms, and big surprise, had had little or no training. A few didn't know that they had to orient their boards. School districts MUST provide support in this area if they expect the IWBs to used effectivelt and this training must involve more than just an overview of the technical aspects. Investigations into good pedagogical use also must be part of the conversation and on-going.
Also, when encouraging the participants to take charge of their own professional learning through social media, I found that not one teacher was on Twitter. Twitter is not the be all and end all tool, but it's been so critical in my learning. I was surprised by the divide between the educators in my world and this group; I think it's indicative of a larger chasm that isn't being addressed. In short, I think we have a long way to go before the idea of the "highly connected teacher" (as espoused in the National Educational Technology Plan) is a reality. We have a lot of work to do, folks!
Finally, when browsing resources for interactive whiteboards, I couldn't help but notice the plethora of IWB interactives and lessons that have been developed in the UK by not only teachers, but organizations. This is primarily due to the widespread penetration of IWBs in that part of the world. There is a ton of free and accessible content available to UK teachers, and it made me wish that there was more of a priority in this front in the U.S. Are DoE funds supporting the development of GOOD content in a more comprehensive and practical way? Perhaps more is going on in this area than I realize, so educate me.
Also, while doing my research, I was absolutely stunned to find out that the UK's Teachers TV is shutting down. This follows the equally stunning demise of Becta, their formidable ed tech agency. The UK has been on the forefront of innovation in educational technology, and these are huge blows. I first learned of Teachers TV at Alan November's BLC conference and have been impressed with this method of professional development delivery. Again, I'd love to see something like this developed in the US, but if we're seriously talking about not funding groups like PBS and NPR, I wonder if I should even hope that are priorties are really focused on education. These are definitely dark days... How are we supposed to improve under these conditions?