Dave Sanders, Director, Roadmap Innovation – Education & Healthcare @ Ergotron
Last month, I had the humbling experience of walking a mile in the shoes of today’s teacher…sort of (I’ll explain the qualifier in a bit). You see, I was responsible for a session at our annual sales meeting during which I was to train the sales team on our product offering and message for K-12 and Higher Education customers.
And with overzealous confidence, I declared to my peers, “If I’m going to train the team on how our products can serve as the platform for the 21st Century Classroom, I’m going to do it Smart Classroom style”. Easy enough, I thought.
Wrong! I had forgotten that I am a Digital Immigrant.
I quickly came to appreciate how daunting it can be for a Digital Immigrant Educator to step out of the old school and into a 21st Century Classroom.
Teaching in a Smart Classroom requires all of the usual preparatory effort – what content to be delivered, how to engage and motivate students, etc. It also introduces a very time-consuming stressor: how to put a bunch of new technology to productive use without losing the lesson in the process, or worse yet looking just plain foolish?
After all, one of my daughters reminded me a couple of days ago how wide the tech-divide is between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives (Marc Prensky offers up more insight on this divide at http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/default.asp).
I had just sent her a text message containing “u” for you and “fb” for Facebook. I thought I was both digitally cool and efficient. Wrong again! She said, “Only parents shorten words like that.” I guess kids don’t need to, given their native ability to rifle off one-handed text messages on a cell phone keypad while playing a video game with their free hand.
So back to my “class.” The 90-minute agenda included a PowerPoint-supported training presentation, a small group breakout segment to discuss homework enabled by Google documents, some Excel spreadsheet data review, a guest lecture by one of my colleagues on education technology, an awards session facilitated by a document camera (to display the various awards to the whole class), and some mp3 audio content thrown in for spice.
This was all delivered 21st Century Classroom style to about 60 “students” using a convertible tablet pc and the document camera mounted on a powered mobile teaching platform, with wireless KVM technology to throw keyboard, video and mouse action to a projector and screen at the front of the room. Content was also thrown to two large-format LCD displays on mobile carts at mid- and back-room to ensure view-ability and facilitate collaboration during the breakout segment.
Needless to say, I spent a great deal of time preparing for this session, as did an especially tech-savvy colleague who helped make all the technology components talk to each other. This led me to think of the significant time and energy that teachers must invest in education technology training as they move into a Smart Classroom setting.
In the end, our smart classroom efforts paid off. Everything worked properly and the session was productive. This brings me back to the qualifier I made at the top of this post. I was “teaching” a group of sales professionals – a tough audience in its own right – but undoubtedly not as challenging as connecting with a room full of Digital Natives!
As I travel the US this year meeting with K-12 and Higher Education professionals, and our technology integration partners who serve them, you can bet that I will be drawing upon insights gained from this walk in a teacher’s world to help them navigate the technology jungle.
If I don’t find you first, look me up!