Hundreds of educational technology bloggers and conference speakers hold forth on the need for transformational change in our educational system, and the conversation can get pretty lofty and philosophical.
I am a strong advocate for transformational reform; but it seems to me there are two very serious roadblocks in our way that we have yet to address.
The first roadblock is our school structure:
How does a Middle School or High School teacher use technology to create a student-centered, project-based learning classroom environment, when they have less than 45 minutes with their students per day?
BTW, they must use these precious minutes to meet demanding state NCLB standards, and their curriculum may be governed by detailed ‘maps’ that outline the pace and sequence of teaching and learning in their classrooms.
Maybe the teacher does their best to squeeze in a project or two for the students during the year; but that doesn’t significantly change the primary classroom dynamic that is presently dominating secondary education.
The second roadblock is our technology deployment practices:
How does a Middle School or High School teacher use technology to move to student-centered, project-based learning, when they generally have only one or two computers, and maybe an interactive whiteboard and projector in their classrooms?
Maybe the teacher has a student use the interactive whiteboard while the rest of the class sits and watches, maybe the class watches a good video clip, or simulation; but the one computer classroom is a passive one and does not fully utilize the potential of technology to empower each individual student.
Unless we fully address these two basic questions, our best PD and transformational change efforts will make little impact on what is really going on in our schools.