Sunday, July 14, 2013

Apple Distinguished Educator Institute 2013

I'm waiting at the airport to catch my flight for the 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator Institute with all sorts of emotions. I'm more than excited to begin a journey of discovery filled with seeking new knowledge, collaborating and networking with others and being introduced to innovative ideas so that I can continue to do the same with the amazing educators I work with in Manitou Springs.

I saw a quote the other day on the Apple Website:

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” - Apple, Inc.

I like this quote and though I'm too humble to think the innovative practices we are employing will change the world they will certainly have impact on the students who will, collectively, change the world. My goal in Austin will be to gleam all I can to make good on that quote.

I'm also really nervous. These ADE'S are rockstars who produce amazing content and have been my mentors for many years. Now, i'm working side by side with them and that's a bit daunting. Yes, I'm a bit out of my comfort zone.

I'm curious too - what exactly will the next few days hold? The advanced agenda is out and I've taken several surveys but what exactly is in store remains to be known. There certainly is a lot of excitement in the twitter-verse.

Mostly, I'm humbled to be awarded this title and will do my best to live up to the expectation.

I'm also a little bit stoked. Okay, a lot stoked.

So what exactly is an Apple Distinguished Educator?

From the Apple website: Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere. ADEs work closely with Apple to lead innovation in education. ADEs advise Apple on integrating technology into learning environments — and share their expertise with other educators and policy makers. They author original content about their work. They advocate the use of Apple products that help engage students in new ways. And they are ambassadors of innovation, participating in and presenting at education events around the world. Being part of the ADE community is much more than an honor — it’s an opportunity to make a difference.

You can find out more by visiting the Apple ADE website.

Can you see why I'm excited, nervous, curious and mostly humbled to be a part of this amazing group of educators? Let the games begin.


Why Wouldn't I? Thoughts on Using Technology for Technology's Sake

Frequently I'll hear the statement, "We shouldn't be using technology for technology's sake." There is no argument that educators must be purposeful in their intent when it comes to lesson planning in order to meet district and state mandates while continuing to design learning opportunities for students that are engaging and authentic. Much credence has been given to this statement and, with the advent of applications that often mimic low level thinking skills like word searches, then I might agree. But technology and access to technology has changed and lately I'm beginning to feel like this statement is more of a crutch or reason not to use technology than one that is truly focused on the educational goals and outcomes of learning. The only people I hear making this statement are those either resisting the use of technology or those trying to convince the resistors to use the technology and letting them know the intent is purposeful. I'm not convinced this statement is doing much to help children learn. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's slowing teachers down and giving students yet another reason to lose interest in school and learning.

The use of technology in education has helped me be more effective with my time and organization. It has aided in my teaching and learning by bringing countless resources to my fingertips just in time for upcoming lessons and units. When a new application or device becomes available I'm interested in it's use because I want to increase my productivity, get more connected or simply investigate a new way of doing something. Students should be using technology to raise awareness of issues relevant to them by starting conversations and taking action. Students need to use the technology in order to find answers to questions and connect with like minded (or not) people. The idea of using technology for technology's sake has never let me down because technology is brilliant and opens doors to unimaginable places and things, especially in the classroom. And, if the technology takes a bit of time to learn and perhaps even slows me down for a bit, I consider myself better off because I've spent some time in the problem solving/troubleshooting mode and come out on top.

If I consider the fact that teachers are professional, able bodied learners whom I trust to create lessons that focus on learning and critical thinking, why wouldn't I want them to use technology for technology's sake? One creative idea will often lead to another and so it goes in a technologically rich, connected classroom that collaborates and produces and shares incredible pieces of work because a teacher isn't fearful of using technology, sometimes just for technologies sake. Why wouldn't I?