I am in Dublin, Ohio, in the hours before the start of the Dublin Literacy Conference. Last night, I had a wonderful dinner with Mary Lee and Franki, and also my new blogging friend, Tony, but it was a conversation on the way into Dublin from the Columbus airport that sticks out with me this morning. The organizers of this amazing conference — which is in its 21th year — have really put the focus on technology this year, using the push from NCTE into New Literacies as their guide post.
The keynote speaker this morning will be Tim Tyson, who has done some amazing things with technology when he was a middle school principal (including having all teachers blog and using moviemaking as a core element of the curriculum). Many of the sessions, including the ones I am leading around digital picture books, webcomics and stopmotion movies, have some technology element to them.
And the organizers have set up a “tech playground” area where teachers can wander in and play around with a Kindle, an iTouch, Flip cameras and more in a non-threatening fun environment. Plus, I believe there might be some student work on display that shows technology in action.
I think this is all wonderful, and important for teachers to see, but I know some of the organizers are crossing their fingers, hoping that it is not too much technology for the teachers coming to the conference. A good number are from outlying rural areas, where technology may not be prevalent, and the last thing you want to do is to alienate your base (see Pres. Obama for details on how that goes for ya).
As a presenter, this is good to know. I hope to pitch my presentations to the middle of the spectrum and try to help teachers see how you might get from here to there, even if it is baby steps. What we can’t lose sight of is that the use of technology and media is part of the lives of our students, and sticking our heads in the sand and hoping it will go away or never enter our classrooms just won’t work (this seemed to be the approach of a large regional literacy conference I went to in Providence in November). So, I salute the Dublin folks for being brave and I hope the teachers here today take advantage of the opportunity to see ways to using technology to enhance student achievement and engagement.
Peace (in Ohio),