Teaching With Technology: Debbie Brewer

Welcome to Teaching with Technology! This series of guest posts asks educators to share how they integrate technology in their classrooms. These posts are written by a very special group, CK-12 Foundation’s Champions.

Today’s guest post is by Debbie Brewer. She is a Teacher and Technology Coordinator at Lumen Christi High School in Anchorage, Alaska.

How do you currently integrate technology in your classroom (e.g., products used, devices, etc.)?
We don’t “integrate.” We try not to consider technology a separate component to education. Kids don’t see their phone as a tool or toy. It just is a phone. They assume that it is for researching as well as social and they never give it a thought as to what to do with it.

That said, from another perspective, we use whatever kids bring — laptops, netbooks, tablets, phones, ipod touches. In the rooms we have desktops — mostly PC, but a few IMacs also. There are a few smart boards, projectors, etc.

What have been the advantages and disadvantages of using technology in the classroom?
Advantages: more kids able to research at the same time, able to differentiate better
Disadvantages: teaching teachers how to monitor and mentor vs. direct teach.

How have your students benefited from technology?
Quicker to ask questions because they know they can look stuff up right away. Better engagement for those at top and bottom.

Also a benefit for those who have learning differences. Things like google docs means that they have less lost work.
Online textbooks mean they don’t leave them at school.

If money were no object, what would you like to see happening in your classroom with respect to use of technology?
All kids would have a laptop. Our bandwidth would be able to handle the increased usage. Kids would work independently part of each day and then also meet with peers and teachers part of each day.
Less “grade level” work, more at readiness level work. Built in video for watching and for interacting. Total engagement.

We hear the phrase “21st Century Skills” often with respect to technology and education. What are “21st Century Skills?”
Team work and collaboration.
Ability to determine the value of a source.
And in truth….we can’t answer this. We don’t know what kids (or ourselves) will need. We need to teach how to adapt.

Describe the “classroom of 2040.” What’s different? What’s the same?
“Classroom” is definitely in quotes! I think more kids will learn individually online or in small pods. Parents, especially of young kids, will still need a place to “babysit” so I don’t think we will totally see buildings gone. But we may see more neighborhood groups vs. large schools.
Less grades and more competencies.
Teachers will need to be able to teach multiple areas as well as be able to direct learning instead of handing it out.
We will need to know how to interact online as well as face to face.