Tech Be Nimble
The semester definitely got away from me, but as I wrap up the final details of work and school for 2015, I find myself reflecting on what's going to be a major topic for me in 2016: teachers' informal learning. I'm in the beginning stages of planning my dissertation study, so a lot is still up in the air. But I do know I'll be looking at how teachers learn about technology integration in informal ways: conversations in the hallway, reading articles for personal interest (rather than professional obligation), watching videos, and all the other ways teachers seek answers to the problems of practice they're encountering in their classrooms. We all learn informally, all the time, whether it's seeing a friend's Facebook post about toddler lifehacks or seeing how a colleague has found a more efficient way to deal with some mundane work task you always dread. We don't need to attend a workshop or continuing education course to learn this stuff. We just find someone who already knows the answer and ask them.
I suspect teachers are doing a lot of informal learning when it comes to using technology in the classroom. I've written before about the inadequacy of most formal technology professional development for teachers. If you follow any education-related news sources, you've probably read examples for yourself--about LA's failed iPad program or the countless other similar examples of schools who put the tech ahead of the teaching and ended up with a lot of unfulfilled promises. A lot of teachers are left to their own devices to fill the knowledge gap that's left when formal professional development ends. So next year I'll be studying the ways teachers learn informally from each other, from their students, and from myriad other sources, as they seek to integrate technology effectively in their classrooms.
Needs change. Technology changes. The best educational technology stays nimble.