Last month we had to say goodbye to our beloved dalmatian “Firedog”, Jazmin. She was 14 years young and lived a full and wonderful life blessing our family with her unique and loving character.
I am not sure how dalmatians got their place in fire truck lore, but my firedog was not a fan of anything smokey or different. She loved a good nap and chased many a tennis ball but was by no means fond of danger or change. She was always nervous about new situations but once she could sniff around a bit, she would wag her tail in a way that her whole body shook. She was a great dog!
This week I am thinking about how we view the “infiltration” of the personal technologies that pervade our personal lives into our learning environments. I will be the first to say that caution is advised, but we also need to leave fear of the risks at the door of the classroom.
Why would we risk this? One key point is how current studies have shown that the use of our own technology in learning helps us make the things we learn more personal. Strategic integration of these tools can also enable students to be more than mere consumers of information. It is not about entertaining our students or bowing to their need for more Facebook time, it is about finding ways to expand the walls of the classrooms into the personal lives of our students and the personal lives of our students into the learning environment.
My firedog, Jazmin would do a funny thing - she would nervously pace around our pool on a hot day while the other dogs and people were enjoying a cool dip in the pool. She never really got in the water, but would bark and bark in concern that the rest of us were in some danger. Technology innovation in education is like the water in the pool in my backyard - it can seem too dangerous for us to jump in and we are worried about others diving in as well. Next week I will look more into specific examples of what our peers in higher ed are using strategic use of cell phones to diffuse the social and distractive nature of these devices. For now, I say to all of us as I would say to my firedog, “it’s okay, don’t be afraid."
Jazmin was a sweet, sweet loyal dog who was happiest when she was by my side or with any in our family. If dogs smile, she surely did on most days of her life. Her passing reminds me not to be so hesitant of things that are new.