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Sep 07

Chris Smeaton

Can you imagine?

Earlier this year, I took my 75-year-old father on a golf weekend. At the same time, my daughter, was halfway around the world volunteering and teaching English as a Second Language in Bali. The connection…FaceTime! While sitting in the hotel room and deservingly resting after playing 36 holes of golf, my father and I conversed with my daughter through FaceTime. My dad was in awe as he not only talked to his granddaughter, but saw her and saw where she was in real-time. While both my wife and I have come to rely on modern technology to keep connected with our grown children, it was amazing to watch my dad! He couldn’t imagine and it was hard for him to believe that this type of technology was so readily available.  

Rewind to my youth- did I ever imagine the potential uses of technology that exist today? Although quite a Star Trek fan (the first Captain Kirk and Spock) as a kid, what occurred on those episodes seemed pretty far-fetched and just science fiction. And while we’ve not yet perfected the “transporter”, many of the communication technologies have come to life in our world today. To that I ask, “Can you imagine the technology advances in the next twenty to fifty years?”

Education today needs to be in the “can you imagine” phase. While change is the constant, predicting the rate and amount of change is almost beyond our own imagination. Yet, if we don’t prepare our students (for a world that currently does not exist) with critical thinking abilities, problem solving strategies, creative questions and innovative answers then, we have failed them miserably. What is today, will be orientated differently tomorrow and quite possibly unrecognizable. The influences of technology will not sit idly by and instead will drive much of the changing landscape.

So why did I begin this blog with reference to my dad, daughter and FaceTime? For some in education and the general population there still seems to be a resistance to utilizing technology in our classrooms. “That’s nice,” they say, “But I use all of the tried and true methods when I teach.” I don’t argue that those methods have been tried and are true. What I argue is whether those methods were most efficient and for our learner today, most engaging. We could have phoned my daughter in Bali that evening and had a wonderful chat but the experience of seeing her face and viewing her surroundings were far more powerful and emotionally charged. Both work but which one will be more lasting?

So, can you imagine…and then take that into your classroom?

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