Why the iPad? Why the blog?

I’ve been enjoying my iPad, seeing what it could do, where it might fit into my life full of technologies.  I’m comfortable with my desktop and laptop Macs. I love my iPhone and iPod.  I’m reasonably comfortable with my netbook.  I’ve got a whole host of other techno-gadgets to play with – so why something else, why something new, why the iPad?  Why now?

I’ve been struggling with this idea of why we would want to give an iPad to AE2.0 participants this fall – especially when we’ve geared them up with many of the items in the inventory listed above.  Why the latest tool – why now?  I’ve just sat with these questions, with no real answer coming, until today that is.  Going through my Diigo bookmarks, I ran across an old post by blogger Karl Fisch.  If you haven’t ever seen his groundbreaking video “Shift Happens,” I recommend you watch it asap.  For years, it was all that the ed tech community could talk about – and it launched modest Karl into the spotlight.  That aside, Karl has a great blog called “The Fischbowl” where he explores educational technology in his role as a teacher and technology specialist.

The post in question, entitled “Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?” is pretty old (from 2007).  It may seem dated, but the ideas still ring true.  Karl makes some pretty strong statements, such as:

“If a teacher today is not technologically literate – and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more – it’s equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn’t know how to read and write.”

and

“In order to teach it, we have to do it. How can we teach this to kids, how can we model it, if we aren’t literate ourselves? You need to experience this, you need to explore right along with your students. You need to experience the tools they’ll be using in the 21st century, developing your own networks in parallel with your students. You need to demonstrate continual learning, lifelong learning – for your students, or you will continue to teach your students how to be successful in an age that no longer exists.”

Its this second statement that helped me to finally understand why its so critical that we are doing this iPad pilot ourselves, and now.  We are working with teachers who are serving students who will increasingly have access to digital technologies.  We need to prepare them to explore the technologies available to their students so that they can incorporate those tools into the classroom.  We need to make ourselves successful first, so we can help our AE2.0 participants to become increasingly successful in their own teaching/learning endeavors. We are expanding our individual professional knowledge through this professional learning community.  We are modeling what we hope to support in the teachers we serve.

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