In his Edutopia article “World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others” Will Richardson discusses some of the issues that led me to the realization that I had to deliberately and strategically address my view of the role of technology in my classroom. I have not completely shied away from asking my students to use technology in the classroom. I’ve assessed plenty of Power Point Presentations and received my share of reports and narratives in my email inbox. But I admit I’ve had a reluctance to connect my students to the outside world available to them through the internet. I now realize that while I felt I was protecting them from the predators, con artists and know-it-alls, I was also denying them amazing opportunities to learn and grow and collaborate and connect. As Mr. Richardson points out, our students are already connecting and even collaborating with others through cyberspace on their own with both positive and negative effects. I need to give them opportunities in a safe, supportive setting (my classroom) to explore and interact with others to connect and collaborate in meaningful, productive ways. And I know I need to start with me. Mr. Richardson concludes his article with what I take as a challenge that I must take on for my students.
“We must engage with these new technologies and their potential to expand our own understanding and methods in this vastly different landscape. We must know for ourselves how to create, grow, and navigate these collaborative spaces in safe, effective, and ethical ways. And we must be able to model those shifts for our students and counsel them effectively when they run across problems with these tools. Anything less is unacceptable for our kids…who so far have been relegated to learning how to add dots to their maps on their own. The good news, for those willing to accept the challenge, is that we don’t have to do it alone.”
I think my enrollment in the COETAIL program will help me take on this challenge by providing me the education and support to prepare my students and, hopefully, other educators to be successful and productive participants in the Collaboration Age.