21st Century Pygmalion – The Idea

19 Aug 2009

In January I was given the job of Director of Educational Technology at my private school in Costa Rica after teaching there (and helping teachers integrate technology on a part-time basis) for five and a half years. The Country Day School is a private American school with a population of about 900 students K-12. I was appointed to this newly created position to help the teachers integrate technology, to improve student learning. I have worked in various capacities in educational technology throughout my career, and was very excited to help the teachers to integrate technology in a full-time position.

In May, the high school principal approached me with an idea. He wanted to help his wife, a high school English teacher, to integrate technology into her classes during the next school year. Actually, his idea was much more ambitious than just integrating technology. His idea was that all work could be done digitally, and would include blogs, threaded discussions, and in-class chat rooms to replace traditional hand-written or typed assignments. I told him that I thought it sounded like a very interesting idea, especially since his wife is “technologically challenged.” I thought it would be a very challenging year-long project for the three of us to collaborate on.

We had several meetings between May and the start of school, and decided that the best solution would be to create a social network (using Ning). This network would become the home for the classes involved, and hopefully develop into a learning community where the students continue to learn from each other long after they had left the classroom for the day.

Harry, the high school principal, also suggested that we document this process using video, as this would be a significant change in teaching style for his wife Tibbie. I will be filming the classes and some interviews with Tibbie, and also plan to blog about the progress throughout the year. I am encouraging Tibbie to blog about it also. She’s not up for it just yet, but will hopefully be able to add the blog to an already full plate of change sometime in the future.