Transformative Bytes

Never have educators had so many choices for professional development as today. Never have educators had so many choices of networks and professional communities to join and participate in. And yet…

There are those who still fear the internet and its power to erode local cultural morals. There are those who still add further brick walls to their already existing technical constraints in classrooms by burying any possible digital engagement under dull carpets of excuses.

Culture is not something static, neat and tidy that one keeps in a locked up box. Culture is alive, transformative in its nature of being alive and adapting to change. Clinging to the notion of culture as static, is denying what culture really is about. Defining culture today also implies reflecting on the global impact of globalisation – this is not only the “eroding” of local cultures, but adaptation and development. Whether one agrees of not, it will not stop as younger generations grow up in a post-Google world. And yes, there are dark, dangerous places online. Just as there are dark, dirty channels on satelite TV – yet, even in the most conservative of societies, these eyesores are a constant fixture on the housing landscape. Perhaps, precisely because of these dark spaces, it is worth integrating digital practices in classrooms, teaching learners how to keep safe, how to develop a positive digital footprint and how no, whatever they post online will not go away. Ever. Being a responsible educator today also means to guide students’ online profile.

Digital technology alone will not transform education. Referring to Excel sheets and teaching how to use PowerPoint is also not what I would refer to as ICT. Using an iBook as one would use a traditional course-book, is another fallacy which is easy to fall into.

Additionally, no imposed professionally training will actually make teachers become more receptive to implementing change in their classrooms. The will has to come from understanding the possibilities of engagement which digital technologies offer to learners and teachers alike. This will to learn, to adapt to today’s world, to today’s educational possibilities,  is the individual teacher’s responsibility. This shift of values has to occur from within. Whether it is focusing on digital citizenship, cyber-bullying, using a digital platform to create a movie,  or even how to find the best work-flow when using iPads in classrooms, individuals need to find a need, which will lead them to learning. Only then will educators really understand how digital technologies may bring about classroom engagement and educational value today.

Transformation will come about. Whether in small bytes by individuals driving change or even by students themselves, though in my experience, if a teacher is open to using digital tools/platforms in a classroom, students will more readily add their preferences as well.

Informal learning is becoming increasingly common practice. Whether through Social Media or other sources (e.g. online communities, MOOCs, open courses etc), worlds of learning are available to all. And yes, even in conservative societies, students are aware of these platforms. All it takes is the will power to guide learners how to take advantage of all this possibilities for their own learning. And no. Learning will not end nor will we be able to say “I know everything now!”. The speed of change is too great for such self-deluding discourse.

There are no miracles in the process of change.

There are individuals who engage, who seek learning. Learning comes from practice, from failing and not fearing to try again.

Transforming education was never a simple task. Education depends on individuals and not merely on communities and networks who are interested in change.

Most critically, students depend on education to prepare them for the changes that lie ahead of them.

How can educators ignore that change is indeed an essential part of education?

References:

Asfar, V. 2013, Our Educational Leaders Must Get Aggressive with Technology

Chad, E., 2013, Technology is not a Magic Bullet

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