When I first started teaching in 2007, we used desktop computers, email and programs (for grading, attendance and school documents) however the true access to technology like we have today was not present. Most teachers did not have smartphones and without laptop computers, like many teachers use today, the work that I took home was papers to grade and lessons to plan. Today, in 2017, I can access everything from my work laptop anytime and anyplace. I can ask a question to my colleague at any time through email, evaluate curriculum from other teachers around the country but the downside is that all of the work that I do at school can also come home with me.
In the book Networked: The New Social Operating System by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman that we have been reading in class (B EDUC 476), in chapter 7, the authors discuss “Networked Work”. I agree with what these authors wrote and had to say regarding networks in our daily lives, families and in the workplace. Communication between educators has become so infinite. Even since I have started this graduate course, I have discovered so many individuals on Twitter, blogs and websites that I could never have enough time to tap into all the available resources to enhance my lessons in the classroom and my job as a teacher.
I still find that I learn a tremendous amount from just conversing with other teachers in my school. My students had finished learning about WWII in their World History class when I started working as their teacher this past week, beginning 2nd semester. A fellow World History teacher recommended this incredible data-based documentary to me called The Fallen of World War II. I had my students watch this as a transition piece from WWII to the Cold War. Once they finished watching the video, I asked how it made them feel? There are no people, no actors and it is not a traditional documentary. The video is all data visual info-graphics yet after watching it, it makes you truly understand the destruction of WWII, and feel moved or sad about the number of lives that were lost.
In order to show this to my class, I used technology. However, I discovered this amazing documentary through word of mouth. As Rainie and Wellman wrote in their book Networked, “The success of collaboration in the network operating system often depends on a delicate balance of computer networks and human networks that provide the trust and incentives to share information and knowledge” (p. 194). I fully agree with this interesting balance of using computers in the workplace to enhance our ability to organize, display information, access knowledge and overall work better as teachers, however we can never fully replace the camaraderie, the friendships and the personal networking that takes place between educators in schools face to face.