WOW! I had never seen Rushton Hurley speak before, but after one session he’s become one of my new favorite presenters. Not only was he fast and furious like some of the keynoters here at MACUL, but he’s a classroom teacher, which means he still has a connection to students and what’s working/not working in his classroom and school. His session was a great overview of what he feels are effective DO’s and DON’Ts for getting teachers to use technology, and it was great.
I know I didn’t capture all of his DO and DON’T items, so please feel free to help out by pointing out something I forgot in the comments.
- DO show something fun – This is an age-old trick of just about every Kindergarten teacher out there. If you want to really engage teachers in a professional development setting, you have to engage them first rather than hit them over the head with something “tied to standards”. He showed off the CoolIris plugin for Firefox which turns a webpage full of images into a really cool photo wall with a click of a button.
- DO Allow regular (and short) sharing time – Rushton argues that we should take little bits of time from regular staff meetings and team meetings to share something interesting. Too often we have no idea what’s going on with teacher’s around us. (I’m a HUGE believer in this method)
- DO showcase what can be done with on or two classroom computers - Rushton made the case for using the two or three computers at the back of the room that many teachers say are pretty useless because they don’t have printers/not enough time/tech is too complicated/etc. Excuses are just excuses, because there is so much easy tech out there that two or three computers would be awesome for.
- DO Learn what’s freely available – Rushton is saying that we shouldn’t get hung up with “industry standard” software, and boxing kids into pre-programmed notions of what they “should be using”. He gave a simple quick demonstration using Google Sketch Up.
- DO use targeted spending to focus money – Find ways to funnel money and resources to people and learning opportunities that will capitalize on the resources.
- DON’T have teachers require themselves to be technology experts - Rushton basically said that we as teachers don’t have to be experts, and we should feel comfortable letting the students be experts. We can still assess what they’ve done because we’re the experts on teaching, learning, and our content areas.
- DON’T tie everything to standards – Rushton argued that by presenting something by saying that “this will be great for standards” you’ve already lost part of your audience because they’re being “told what to do”.
- DON’T sit everyone in a lab for training – It can be tedious, boring, stuffy, and ultimately, doesn’t showcase the “cool” stuff going on everyday in our classrooms.
- DON’T blanket the school with expensive hardware – Rushton was trying to say that we shouldn’t be looking at trying to use our money in schools to make sure everyone has the same big expensive products, software, etc. He says that really great teachers should be able to direct where and how money is spent on equipment for their room. (I’m not sure how I feel about this one, will have to digest it, as I’ve seen how much more motivational it can be for some low-tech using teachers to “just start using/playing/exploring” what they can do with hardware in each room because the other teachers around them are doing it)
All of the links to the humorous video, the plugins, and other little bits of goodness can be found HERE on Rushton’s site!
Want to share your technology and teaching story with others? WIT podcasters, Russ Barneveld and Barbara LaBeau from GVSU will be interviewing willing participants for podcasts, then posting them on iTunesU and the MACUL website. This is your chance to be a podcasting celebrity, share your wisdom with the greater educational community, discuss important issues affecting education in Michigan, gain thousands of followers in iTunes, and craft a media-empire!
Alright, so everything, but that last bit is probably true. Empire-creating statements aside, siting down to reflect about your conference or presentation experiences is a great way to process and internalize what you’ll be learning later this week at MACUL 2010. Consider giving a little bit of your time to help make the instructional time with your students that much better when you return from the conference next week!
If interested please contact Russ (email@example.com) or Barbara (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule an appointment while you are at MACUL.