Friday, May 1, 2009

Invitation to the Future

Recently a friend sent a letter she had received from her San Antonio Superintendent regarding technology in schools. It's quite an invitation to the future. I'm fortunate to work in a district that supports and encourages the use of technology in the classroom but this directive tops the cake. Hats off to Richard Middleton.

Dear Friend,

We cannot ignore the fact that today's students learn much differently than we did as children. They live in a world of computers, smart phones, video sharing and instant messaging. And they will have all of those going simultaneously while doing their homework. Using technology in ways that keep our students engaged will help ensure their success in school and beyond. For that reason, North East ISD is in the process of bringing more technology into every classroom across the district.

We know that issues arise any time we deploy new media tools, and that there is a learning curve associated with the evolution of any new system. Our support staff is committed to adapt with the changes and resolve problems as quickly as possible. All of us must also make a commitment to adapt.

We envision many changes in the future of education, such as the replacement of printed textbooks with electronic versions, more distance learning opportunities and an increased use of hand-held educational devices. To be prepared for that future, we must build a strong foundation today.

First, educators need access to professional development opportunities to effectively integrate technology as a teaching and learning tool. The district strives to help teachers build their instructional technology capacity with support, training and tools. Teacher laptops, ceiling mounted projectors, teacher Web sites, SMART Boards and wireless connectivity are just a few tools being used right now in our district.

Second, we must stay current. Technology is always evolving, and we must constantly ask ourselves how we can better reach our students and parents. Your input is vital in this process. I would like to hear from you about what methods are working successfully as well as what tools we should consider using that we haven't as of yet.

For example, how much should we take advantage of social media outlets? We know about the benefits. Instant communications like Twitter allow us to be our own media outlet. Wikis and blogs let us develop specific messages and elicit immediate feedback from a student, staff or community audience. Podcasts also keep us connected with our community and facilitate learning. Do these tools also have drawbacks or limitations? What are they?

Our use of technology offers fantastic potential for improved customer service, classroom instruction and efficiency. It also brings dangers for our students and teachers, such as cyber bullying, online predators and increased potential for cheating. E-mail me your thoughts about the pros and cons of integrating technology into the classroom and how technology will change instruction over the next five years.

Working together, we can accomplish great things. Thank you for your commitment to innovation and staying current in this technological age.

Have a great week.

Richard Middleton


  1. We are fortunate that we work in a district that is open to many of these same things. My feeling is that we get one thing and we constantly want more. We get an inch and we want a mile. I have to remind myself how thankful that we should be.

    But we also have to look ahead for what is best for the students. And they will push us forward also. Thanks for sharing.

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