Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Simple Things

I recently went to Minnetonka Minnesota to look at a model technology district there. To say the very least the visit was very, very interesting. What they had done was work closely with the community to pass a 20 million dollar levy to fund technology as a accelerator of learning. The purchased white boards, mounted speakers, and projectors, invested in staff development in a culture of professional learning and used BlackBoard as content management system. None of these things is especially special, innovative or unique. They just used the technologies together to form a synergy that had a dynamic effect in the classroom. In every classroom, the kids counted on the basic tools of electronic learning.

The project was not about the technologies they selected, standardization or any other of the customary magic. What they had really done was invest in tried and true educational techniques that have been around for years. The project was not about interactive white boards; it was about student interaction. The students used the boards to share ideas not perpetuate the teacher presenting to the class. It was not about BlackBoard; it was about home to school communication. The mounted projectors were used to engage the students. They had gone to the educational well and found things that we know work: student engagement, interactivity, and home to school communication. The real magic was the simplest of things.