Monday, October 28, 2013

Learning from a Fire Hydrant

Before the threat of toxins and bacteria ever existed, we all took a long drink out of the garden hose, right? Of course we did. There was nothing better on a hot summer day. Cool, refreshing, and satisfying. Think of it now and our minds are flooded with memories of a sweet and simple childhood. Play. Drink from the hose. Repeat.

But imagine, instead of a slow trickle of crisp cool water, we were forced to drink from the G Forces of a fire hydrant. One could argue that it is the same water. Same taste. Same quality. And...the hydrant would save time by giving us all our desired water in one shot, leaving us more time to play. No muss. No fuss.

On the way to and from tech training

This is crazy talk, right? First of all it's impossible for the body to store water for that long. Also the force of the hydrant would inflict some amounts of pain on the drinker. Finally the Norman Rockwell-type garden hose experience would cease to exist.

So it is with technology integration. Too many educators feel it is easier to just train the fire hydrant way: large amounts of information in very short time frames (sometimes hours) with the expectation that the content will both stick AND be sufficient to last long-term. In fact neither outcome is likely to happen.

Let's do a PowerPoint, everyone!!
Training aside, educators often do the same with students. We assume all kids know how to navigate through various types of technology and give no thought to the far reaching implications of assignments that "require technology." While it is true that a vast majority of students today have had exposure to tech, few of them really know how to use it appropriately or effectively for educational purposes.

This brings me back to the fire hydrant. When it comes time to use technology, whether to complete an assignment or showcase it, remember the following:

Be patient as students learn appropriate use
Be giving of your time and knowledge 
Be open to new ideas and risks that students might want to take
Be willing to offer up your experience and background
Be an advocate of creativity and failure (yes, failure)
Have your ear to the ground for the next big thing

Above all else, use technology with a steady spray until your kids catch fire with it. Only then will you be free to open up the fire hydrant.

Until then:

By Darin Anderson: Tech guy and former garden hose beverage connoisseur.

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