teAchnology

I have been to church and seen an entire family of children using their Nintendo DS throughout the service. I have been shopping and seen babies in prams seamlessly being entertained by an iPhone and it was only yesterday that I had lunch with my wife at Perigian Beach and saw children being occupied at the table with an iPad. It is apparent that children are excellent in consuming digital content and that too often technology is used as a digital pacifier.

I'm sure that we are all well aware that televisions are often used as a babysitters. With modern life now increasingly more complex and life becoming more busy we have the inherit need for a mobile personal assistant and this has been matched by the provision of new gadget wizardry. iPads, Nintendo DS, Android Tablets and MP3 players are often used as a child constraint. It seems that technology is doing the parenting while parents should be providing explicit instructions in the use of technology.

As a parent I don't let me children use my iPad or iPhone during church and I certainly expect my children to sit at a table and display manners and etiquette. I am aware of my boundaries and I believe that parents and educators must establish rules and expectations and be quietly confident about boundaries regarding technology. I believe that there is a time and place for digital technology and the parameters need to be clearly defined. I also believe that spending quality time with your children is essential to good parenting and that the conversations we have during dinner are just as satisfying as the meals themselves. Parents and educators need to work together to ensure technology contributes to personal well being and growth rather than eroding the core of our personal faith and existence.

Maslow identified five needs; Physicalogical, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem and Self Actualisation. The hierarchy did not include computers. This aspect seems to have been thrown into the mix as being an essential need of human existence. While, technology plays an important role within our lives it is not providing the essential elements of food, water, clothing and shelter. Furthermore, technology cannot provide loving comfort or completely fill the void of emptiness that can only be filled by a real sense of love and belonging. Issues relating to self esteem and personal fulfilment are obtained through real life experiences and interactions with family, friends, colleagues and peers.

I have read article after article about how technology can enrich living and life. The information is often convincing and I had been lead to believe that children have a natural ability to work with technology and allow it to address their individual learning needs to develop educational autonomy. The organic process that is often predicted is excellent Utopian theory, however, my discovery is that unless students are coached in specific skills and techniques in mobile technology they will be like pacified children.

Within a school setting it is essential that time is dedicated to address specific skills. Digital Citizenship must be continually revisited to refresh students on appropriate and inappropriate online activity. Often educators are lead to believe that children are confident and well versed in digital technology, however, I firmly believe that students are excellent consumers of technology and they require education in computing. I think we need to put the teaching back into technology. We must have 'teAchnology'.
 
This term at Nambour Christian College we have scheduled dedicated workshops for Year 4 to Year 12 to address General Capabilities and iPad basics. The students have had one term to become acquainted with their device and now students will receive dedicated coaching on using various tools and applications to maximise their learning and enrich their schooling experience. Fortunately, I am not facilitating all the Professional Development workshops. I have identified a score of students that are iPad Geniuses. They are identified throughout the college by the recognisable coloured iPad Survivor Case. At the close of the year, they will be escorted to an Apple Store to shadow a Apple employee and work alongside them at the Genius Bar. They will also have the chance of seeing behind the scenes and put their expertise to the test.

This term the following topics are being covered in the tutorials;

1. App and Folder Organisation and deleting unnecessary games
2. iMessage and turning off Notifications to eliminate distractions and interruptions
3. Photos and Camera use to ensure personal privacy and well being
4. Using DropBox and iCloud for security and backing up files
5. Netiquette through email and establishing professional signatures
6. How to use Calendars and Reminders to improve organisation and efficiency
7. Creating dynamic presentations with Keynote and Haiku Deck
8. Using Notability and Evernote for note taking
9. Using PDF Expert and Remark to organise work files and tasks

The majority of students are not as savvy as you would think and I would suggest that teaching time must be assigned to addressing iPad skills. Educators have the need to teach students technology. The Australian Curriculum has technology embedded in all subject areas and the common thread is woven throughout the educational tapestry. It will be necessary to tease some of the threads apart to determine what elements have been twisted together to create the string.

When using iPads within a school. You cannot just throw iPads to the students and expect them to know how they work and what to do with them. Like Maslow identified, first you must establish a shelter or educational space, have them feel safe and explain that you want them to succeed and for this reason are providing educational workshops focusing in skill development. The dedicated sessions will promote mastery and a sense of achievement and heighten self esteem. In result students will be eager to apply to new found skills to reach their personal potential.

Some people talk about 'Transcendence' as being an additional stage of the hierarchy. A successful 1:1 project will be characterised by a learning community and the degree to which knowledge and skills are being cultivated and a culture of 'teAchnology' being established. 

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