Gordon: How will technology transform our schools?

Community voice

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 1:24 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 1:34 a.m. CDT
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(Mary Beth Versaci - mversaci@shawmedia.com)
Paul Gordon

Like school districts everywhere, District 41 must figure out the best technology resources for its schools. We ask ourselves: What are the right devices? How many do we need? Who should get what equipment? What about software? What about training? What can we afford?

Important questions, but pretty straightforward compared to this one: How will technology transform our students, our teachers and our schools? That’s the real question and we don’t yet know the answer.

Technology will transform us, not because of this device or that app, but because it inspires us to change our mindsets around learning and helps us see that students can be teachers and teachers must be learners, and everyone can make some choices about their own learning paths.

Technology can show us why it’s important to take learning risks because risking and failing can teach us much more than playing safe and succeeding.

Technology connects us to previously inaccessible resources from across the globe, so that educators don’t have to “know everything,” but can think about their roles differently and become facilitators of learning. More and more they say to their students “I don’t know ... can we find the answer together?” This is a crucial shift, especially as we are challenging even our youngest students to solve real-world problems by integrating science, math, engineering and technology.

Internationally known technology expert, writer, blogger and parent Will Richardson recently visited our district and had many perspectives to share with us. What struck me the most was this common sense observation: “I don’t want my kids to have the same education as I had, just as I don’t want them to have the same medical treatments I had ... change is not optional.” In other words, doing what we’ve done in the past isn’t going to prepare children for their own futures.

Technology makes the everyday processes of writing, calculating and so forth easier and faster; the transformation part comes as we change the way we collaborate, learn, think and create. We don’t know how far we can go in this interconnected world, but we will learn together as we go.

Paul Gordon is the superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41

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