Friday, 6 July 2012

Simple connections

A week ago my brother married his best friend, Kelly Marion. The wedding was a beautiful occasion and brought together friends and family from all over the country. For many, it was the first time connecting in person for quite awhile. Friends that were once accessible daily, were now growing up and out with children of their own. The endless hours of carefree youth, now seemed significantly smaller.

However, there was one person who could not connect with his family and friends in person. My Grandpa McDermott could not make the long journey from Central Pennsylvania to Boston for the wedding, but we decided to bring him there via technology. With a fully charged laptop, a great friend, Keith Zulawnik, a wi-fi connection and a Skype account, we brought my Grandfather along with my Uncle Paul and Aunt Yvonne to the wedding. My Grandfather witnessed his Grandson get married, connected with cousins and new babies and friends who just wanted to say hello. I imagine when my Grandfather was marrying my Grandmother over 66 years ago, he could have never imagined the setup that sat before him. This is why technology is a good thing.

This setup was nothing revolutionary in the realm of innovation and technology, but the simple connection that it allowed was beyond anything I could ever write. And this is where we sometimes get lost in the daily stream of self affirmation and static surrounding the educational technology world. The technology we incorporate is not about us or even about the technology itself, but more importantly it's about the connections that it allows us to make. Too many times we get caught up in what is best for us, as educators, and worrying about technology bringing about a "change in working conditions" or something, "I'll never be able to understand", but that should never be the case for technology integration. Technology simply allows us to create a more engaging experience for our students. Technology provides us with avenues to make connections with our past while gaining a better understanding of our present as we step towards the future. Teaching with technology is not a sprint, nor should it be mandated as something everyone must use. Simply put, technology, in its simplest form can connect many and provide us with opportunities we may have otherwise missed. 

For my Grandfather, this simple connection was probably one of the best things he has seen in his life. And I am certain it will be a happy memory for him many years to come. 

As we spend our summers thinking of ways to innovate our classrooms and incorporate new and emerging technologies, let us not overlook the simple connections we can make with our students and within our classrooms. Don't panic. Technology integration is not a sprint. Consider the skills and lessons you want to convey to your students before thinking of adding a layer of technology. The technology piece will eventually arrive in a blissful eureka moment accompanied by a refreshing smile. 

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