Embracing the new normal

I had the good fortune of attending the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) recently in Austin, Texas and as always the conference was inspiring. The Expo was great, the sessions were well planned, and it was exciting to see what might be the next big thing in EdTech. I feel one of the greatest strengths of conferences like these are that they create space to have conversations that might not happen on campus. When you are surrounded by folks excited about educational technology it is impossible not to think of the implications for your campus and begin to ponder big questions. When will we be one to one? What does genius hour look like at the elementary level? What role could makerspaces have in our enrichment rotation? My mind was buzzing by time I left and there was one BIG question that I am still wrestling with: Is our job as educators to embrace the new normal of eLearning, or is it to anchor our students to the fundamentals of the past? While the answer may seem easy, a quick ‘yes’ is not without issues.

  • Will Storia make book bags obsolete? Several of our classrooms have started using Scholastic’s online bookshelf to all but replace the book bag that goes home. With a few clicks teachers can indicate which level books are appropriate for the different readers in their class and then BOOM, an entire library of just-right books. Students have choices of what they read and they can interact with them on any device that supports the internet.
  • Have we seen our last paper newsletter? Let me put on my parent hat and tell you I’ll take Livingtree + Class Dojo + Gradespeed over any paper newsletter any day of the week. A tool that gives me up to date information that I can use to work with my child is what I want, not a sheet of paper that is partially outdated by the afternoon it comes home.
  • Will we soon be putting trifold makers out of business? With content creation tools that can outpace their paper based counterparts it won’t be long until the conversation will no longer be about rubber cement or glue stick – the questions will be about how many parts of the world have access to the project you posted online.
  • Can our Wednesday be the same without those big green folders? With digital portfolio tools like the app Seesaw students can capture and comment on work digitally, afterwards teachers and parent can view/comment/interact with it. It beats a folder full of papers any day.

I don’t think the answer is yes to any of these questions, but I will qualify that with a big fat YET. While we might not see everything disappear at once I can provide you examples of all of the above tech replacements happening at Condit as you read this. The biggest hurdle we continue to face is access; we must be certain that all of our families have access to the tools they need to support the success of their child at home. Until we can ensure that the electronic versions of the old standbys are accessible to all parents we will continue to rely on both the old and the new.

Speaking of the new, you can follow Condit Elementary School on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @ConditES is our handle on all three platforms.