Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some Thoughts on Dog Training

A few years back we became a 'dog family'. The kids had pestered me for ages and, basically, I gave in. Our dog, 'Mac' came into our lives and I think he's great and am so glad he did.

Next Friday we become a 'two-dog' family.

I'm probably completely mad as I don't really love animals, my wife is allergic to most of them and we are super-busy, but my 12 year old has them as one of the two passions of her life (the other, thankfully, is baking).

We are spending our few remaining days of only-one-dog-ness reminding ourselves of all the important things that we will need to do with Cara, when she joins our household next Friday.

Of them all, I think one of the most important is the whole area of training. We can't expect a pup of a few weeks to simply fall into our lives and know all that she needs to; she'll need toilet trained, (fast!) trained to wait, come, sit, not to share the couch and not to beg in order to become part of our family. Sophie, that's your job, she's your dog, nothing to do with me.

We'll see how that goes.

I remember in school, having had the iPad a couple of months and looking forward to each child in the class having one thinking; "This is amazing, the kids won't need trained and neither will the staff. They know most of this already from their iPods and iPhones."
After teaching for a few months in a 1:1 iPad classroom I thought: "Just put this in the hands of teachers and it will be transformational - just wait and see what they will do."

Four years on I think that one of the most cornerstones of any successful iPad deployment in education is training.

Yes, it's true that iOS is such a ubiquitous platform that most people are already very familiar with it. Yes, it's true that babes and infants can virtually pinch, swipe, tap and touch before they get to solid food. Yes, most apps are straightforward and intuitive and behave exactly as you'd expect.

But this is a world where training is vital.

Teachers need trained not only in how apps work but in how they work together. Here are some reasons, a 'course catalogue' if you like:

Digital workflows
Storage of data
Digital marking
Rubrics for assessing digital content
Open outcome tasks and technology for learning styles
Content delivery and course creation using digital tools like iTunesU
Curriculum content to take advantage of this technology
Classroom transformation 
Digital Video
Reporting and Sharing 
Linking Apps
Classroom management tools

...and so the catalogue goes on. 

This is important because we are in danger of having a bad experience with our new puppy. We are in danger of being up in the night, cleaning up 'accidents', getting fed of begging and being bitten and barking and many other natural consequences of having an untrained pet.
And the story in our iPad classrooms could also be a tale of technology that fails to be transformational, that causes more problems than in solves, that turns teachers away and gives them more work, rather than cutting time for tasks and making things smoother and easier.

It's not a new world anymore. The stories of transformation in our classrooms should be abounding. It's important that teachers aren't left to 'bring the new puppy home' alone and that school leaders and innovators remember - when you're building the infrastructure and planning the wifi network and winning the hearts and minds of parents and stakeholders don't forget to train the teachers, without whom, the transformation will be at best sporadic and at worst non-existent.

Fingers crossed for the new pup.

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