May 1, 2014
Online Journal - Curing the Technology Headache!
Lara Melashenko, Principal, Chinook Winds Adventist Academy, Calgary, AB

New technology gives me a headache! On the one hand, I love the freedom of accessing information at lightning speed! I love quick and effective communication. I love choices and options to creatively design, and I am constantly looking for more efficient ways to work. I truly do appreciate (and depend on) my personal and professional technology. But on the other hand, I resent the pressure I feel when a new technology emerges and I shy away from taking the time to focus and embrace a new technology. Why? Because it makes me feel extremely inadequate when I try to figure it out the first time and I fail. A case in point: in February, I purchased an AppleTV/LCD TV combo and had our Facility Manager install it in my office. My goal was to do what Heidi Hayes Jacobs said in her book, Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World, “As educators, we need to become strategic learners ourselves by deliberately expanding our perspectives and updating our approaches.” I am embarrassed to report, that since its installation I have failed to turn my Apple TV on in my office and mirror a presentation from my iPad or laptop. I have failed to set passwords and settings on my laptop or hand-held devices to complete this goal. Why? Because when I tried it once (alone) I couldn’t make it work and I don’t have time to feel inadequate.
 
As I reflect on this experience (and previous experiences), I realize that I am a ‘late adopter’ to most new technology. The reason is not because I do not have the time to learn (though I am busy, just like every educator). The reason is not because I am incapable of learning (though some things are harder for me to learn than others). The reason is not because I lack the resources to learn (I could always use Google or YouTube to learn). I believe the reason I initially resist new technology is because learning something completely new takes a certain determination to ‘conquer’ the challenge and risk feeling inadequate. Learning something completely new means letting go of my comfortable knowledge and stepping into a brand new territory where I am likely to feel inadequate and risk failure.
 
Yet I believe there are two compelling reason that we, as Adventist educators, should commit our time to learn and embrace new
technology. First, we must model learning to our students by expanding our own perspective and approaches. New technology provides us with the opportunity to learn ourselves. Our students are inspired to take risks and acquire new knowledge only if they see that we can lead them effectively in learning.  Second, our students (born after 1990) are called the iGeneration for a reason (iBooks, iPhone, iPod, iPad, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Wii, etc.). Our students are “defined by their technology and media use, their love of electronic communication, and their need to multitask. They are constantly engaged with highly individualized mobile technologies used to tweet, surf the Web, text, Facebook, Skype, Instagram, game, etc.” (Rosen, 2011). Undeniably, our students think and communicate in fundamentally different ways than any previous generation. As such, we must respond to this change by embracing technology ourselves so we can engage students in their own ‘language.’
 
Last Friday I invited my son, Andre, to come to my school to provide some iPad training to our staff. Andre works in the IT Department at a school where all the students use iPads and MacBooks. I am proud to report that not only did our staff learn some new tips and uses for iPads, but with the help of my son (also an excellent teacher), in 40 short minutes I was able to learn how to use my own AppleTV with my iPad, iPhone and MacBook Pro! I am pleased to say that I did expand my perspective and update my approach! Professional development is truly the ‘pill’ for my technology headache! And I hope that as I continue adapting new apps for my iPad and finding new ways to use my AppleTV, I will inspire and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
 
References:
 
Jacobs, Heidi Hayes. Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA:  ASCD, 2010.
 
Rosen, Larry D. Teaching the iGeneration. Education Leadership February, 2011, Volume 68, Number 5 http://www.21stcenturyskills.org.