Senior Science: Efficiency, Essential, Deep Learning

My interviewee has been a teacher in the British Columbia school system for 21 years teaching senior science.  My interview was conducted through Google Docs as it allowed my colleague the flexibility to answer the questions at their own leisure.

Through the interview I learned that his views on technology in the classroom are that “it is essential to practice” as it allows the teacher to bring in a wealth of resources to aid in student learning and many times, drive student learning.  Tools such as an LMS like Moodle and electronic meters are used “every single class”.  The use of an LMS allows transparent conversation with parents, helps to keep students accountable, and creates inefficiencies (such as reducing paper usage or direct feedback to students on assignments).

Some of the barriers that my colleague has encountered throughout his teaching career is when large technology decisions are made, but teachers are not consulted on their needs.  We understand that administrators have tough decisions to make, but the users of the technology should be key stakeholders in those decisions.  Specifically, he utilizes a lot of simulations that use both Flash and Java and class sets of iPads will limit their use – rendering this technology useless for him.

In regards to how tools are picked and how often they are replaced, he will first look at what his pedagogy states and then find the tools and is not driven by simply what is new.  Further, he will “only replace if something better comes along”.  In terms of assessment, and in line with the changing BC curriculum, he states that he no longer uses test and instead utilizes ongoing feedback and interviews – all with technology as an aid and not the driving factor.  I was impressed by his uses of alternative methods in a senior science class so asked him how he finds the time to implement technology in his classroom and still cover all of the course content and his response was simple:

“Technology is a tool that we need to take advantage of, to me it’s as basic as a pencil.  We wouldn’t ask an educator how they have time to utilize a pencil in the classroom would we?”.  

It was a stark reminder that if we have the right mindset and embrace its use, the veil of mystery covering technology can be lifted.

3 comments

  1. Just a quick note on Flash and Java, if you install the web browser “Puffin” you can view all of those sites. On another note, I wish more senior teachers had such a strong philosophical standpoint as “essential to practice.” It is unfortunate in this unfolding technical age we live in so may teachers turn their back on tech as they “don’t have time” or “the kids know it all already.” This is a top down problem as well as many districts seem to lack a cohesive direction on technology and its application in the classroom. It kind of seems like the Wild West to me, I have students coming into my grade with such a low level of digital literacy they cannot find their file when they save it on our Macs. Starting from the bottom is frustrating and I feel as every grade there should be standards for digital literacy just as there are for traditional literacy and numeracy You are lucky to work a teacher with a lot of experience, yet obviously has taken an open approach to the digital realm.

    1. Nathan, you are absolutely right! Many kids do not know the tech already. Sure they may have the ability to take a two second video and send a “snap” but are completely lost when it comes to basic digital literacy like finding a file or not including the entire body of an email in the subject line (this has happened to me more than once!).

  2. I find it interesting the interview was conducted over Google Docs, which exemplifies a good use of technology to work around time constraints and schedules. Well done!

    Andrew

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.