Tech & Innovation in Education: A discussion with Jaime Casap

Date April 13, 2012

Jaime Casap, Google Education Senior Evangelist, on Wednesday’s dinner keynote shared lots of information new to some of us but to others he preached to the choir. For example, “By 2020, 123 M Americans jobs will be in high tech/high paying occupations, from computer programming to bioengineering but only 50M Americans will be qualified to fill them. We need to prepare our students for a world we cannot see. ” This is so true but how do we prepare them? I suppose we come to conferences like this one. My own daughter just turned 7 and I bought her an iPad2 for Christmas; her mother wanted to buy her a bluetooth keyboard. My response? Her generation won’t need to/know how to keyboard. This is true. So as parents and as educators, what matters most?

    -The impact of great teachers- Good teachers respect children and demand respect in return. If you don’t get this, they won’t get you.
    -Manage crisis of low expectations- still not truly sure how to do this. I am frustrated by this daily.
    -Success is related to effort- We must build rapport with our students so THEY WANT TO DO WELL FOR US! So they don’t want to disappoint us.

Jaime asked What is the X factor? What motivates our kids? And for me, I’d reiterate what I said above. Build rapport. It almost sounds cultish but make the kids love us and refuse ti disappoint us. If you don’t respect students and show them that you truly care, they won’t be motivated for your class. Oh yes, and 5th graders (I taught 5th grade literacy on break) will do anything for candy!

25% of young people in the US fail to graduate on time w/ a regular diploma (the # jumps to 40% for Latinos & blacks). Dropouts are more likely unemployed, earn lower waves, have higher raates of public assistance, cost society in lost earning taxes, productivity, be single parents, etc…. Education is starting to take advantage of new learning models. We manage our relationships through technology and through the internet. We educators must go to where the kids are to engage them. The internet is not going anywhere, so we must go where it is. For our students today, technology is not new if they’re born into it. Our administrators need to understand this and help teachers change the way we teach. We can’t adapt into technology and try to pigeon-hole our square-pegged curriculum into technologies circular holes; this won’t work. Technology is just a tool, like a desk. Desks are a detriment to learning. Perfectly designed for students to fall asleep on them. How we [teachers] learned is not how our students learn.

Front line teachers today need to develop new ways to teach the skills that all kids need:

    -Communication
    -Collaboration
    -Critical Thinking
    -Analyzing Information
    -Problem Solving

The way we communicate has drastically changed. Collaboration is how we do things today and it’s not cheating. Collective intelligence is key to learning from each other. Teachers need to stop demanding that students memorize things. We must teach them to think, how to analyze and make sense of information. Our students gather, process, and synthesize information differently. Our assessment tools must change, too, but I don’t know anyone who knows how to do this yet. Jaime asked a poignant questions over which I will lose sleep: “If students all learn in different ways, why don’t they all test differently?”

In terms of districts and administrators, “WE NEED TO TEACH HOW TO USE, NOT BAN [tech].” Kids are taught how to cross the street, so why aren’t we teaching them how to cross the digital street? Remember that: “Education is the most powerful weapon that can change the world.” This isn’t to say that some things shouldn’t be blocked still but educators (and parents) need to help make our students literate in the 21st Century. Part of this is on us [teachers] but another part is on school administrators who need to learn what education is out there. The kids have this tech in their pockets already and will use it. We are teachers. We chose to be teachers. So why aren’t we teaching?