Change is the Only Constant

We are in a hyper connected world.  This is changing the way we read, write, interact, gather information, share ideas, and connect with one another. Anstey and Bull (2006) remind us that change is the only constant.


They state that “previously technology was either for communication or providing information. Now one piece of technology can fulfill both purposes” (p.14). Absolutely. Blogs, wikis, pinterest, Facebook, Twitter…these technologies provide information and provide possibilities for communication simultaneously. The literacies we use when we engage with these technologies is defined by our purposes. First, I’m viewing my friend’s Facebook post and then I’m tapping into her pinterest pins to learn more about how she designs her classroom. Then, I’m following a blog to learn about issues in the field of literacy and next I’m clicking on a link that sends me to the NY Times article on statistics about college.

The digital landscape is not only changing the way we gain information and communicate with one another, rightly so, it’s also changing the way we teach. Or it should be.  Salman Khan advocates for changing the script–for flipping the classroom. To put content into video for students to view, review, and review again at their own pace. Leaving classroom time an opportunity to help students where they need it most. Having peers interact with one another to solve problems, analyze text, and ultimately humanize the classroom. Do you think video is reinventing education? How would this work for your students? What are the benefits? What are the costs?

Khan Academy Using Video To Reinvent Education

Some argue that what’s changing in schools may be superficial rather than fundamental. Leander (2007) considers how “technologies are essentially social, and thus serve to constitute particular values, ideologies, preferred practices, power relations, social relations, and modes of learning” (p. 26). Leander looks at the production and organization of school space and time and in his research on wireless classrooms and the use of laptops where the technologies of schooling were largely left unchanged. Kahn might argue that the physical spaces of our classrooms are becoming more obsolete as we engage with students increasingly over digital spaces and that the 45 minute teaching blocks do not allow for repeated practice, student ownership, or enough collaborative possibilities–his site changes that. But what about the teacher as a critical part of the physical space? of the technology that is school?


As teachers in physical school spaces, how do we incorporate new technologies and new literacies into our teaching without simply responding to the latest “new” educational trend. Lankshear and Knoebel (2007) argue for what they call “new ethos stuff”–that is–”active collaboration and participation, leveraging collective intelligence via practices like eliciting user annotations, distributing and wilfully sharing expertise, decentering authorship, mobilizing information for relatedness, hybridization, and the like” (p. 20). The new ethos is about access and power and participation and the possibility that anyone can learn new information and share ideas. Want to learn how to play guitar, there are a myriad of videos and teaching tools online to do so? Want to find a recipe for the perfect pancakes? Voila. Want to write about the overtesting of children in public schools? You’ll have a captive audience.

What’s happening with technology is about literacy, teaching, learning, and schooling but it’s also about far more than that. Anstey and Bull (2006) urge us to consider the power of globalization in our increasingly technology-driven world. Teachers in Kenya can learn from teachers in New York via Skype. Teachers can gather ideas together through google docs and exchange best practices across the globe. Children can engage in experiments in LA and discuss the results with children in Taiwan.

Information Globalization


In the video below, we see Digital Humanitarianism at work and how the earthquake in Haiti changed everything about how responders can reach people who need critical help immediately and in an on going way.

Digital Humanitarianism TED Talk

This matters.


6 thoughts on “Change is the Only Constant

  1. Katie,

    After reading the articles and seeing your opinions of them in your blog, it is clear that we can use one word to describe the overall message- TECHNOLOGY! Williams, Leander, and Anstey and Bull all encourage the use of technology in the classroom in this day and age. Anstey and Bull writes that “diaries, journals, cards, and handwriting are all being taken over by emails, texts, and phone calls”, Leander encourages each student at Ridgeview School to have a laptop for educational purposes, and Williams explains that in the present, literacy practices consist of chatrooms, emails, and webpages. So many people are now seeing the beauty that technology can bring into the classroom and I am in ‘agreeance’!

    I love the video involving the information about the Khan Academy! I believe that Khan has found a brilliant way to use technology effectively in the classroom. You pose two questions- are there benefits and are there costs? I believe that the benefits are that it is fast, easy to view, and very accessible. Essentially, you are getting everything you would get in a basic math class, except it is online and you can view it over and over it again until you understand the material. However, the costs, in my opinion, are if there are still questions after reviewing the video numerous times. In a classroom setting, you have the teacher to clarify any remaining questions or even to explain the method of solving in a different, more understanding way. Overall, I think the Khan Academy videos are a great resource to anyone and everyone!

    Lastly, I loved the cartoon about the flipped classroom. The picture of how the classroom should be after it is “flipped” reads “guide on the side” and I think that explains how the classroom should be in every school! The teachers allowing students to facilitate instruction and discussions allows for the best learning! Teachers should let their students explore on their own and be that “guide on the side” to provide resources when needed!

    Thanks for the great post! 🙂

    Alex Kass

  2. Katie,
    After reading the article as well as a chapter in Anstey and Bulls book, I have come to realize how much impact technology has had on society. We live in the technology era and it seems as though all that we do as individuals and as teachers is based around different forms of technology. In reading chapter one of “Teaching and Learning Multiliteracies” by Anstey and Bull it focused on how the workplace has changed and how globalization has made this happen. It addresses that if we go back 50 years a person would have a job for a lifetime. Now we use technology to help find specific people with specialized skills. I found it interesting that overtime society has changed due to technology. We now have call centers with computer systems and we have training and small businesses. This all came about as time went by and people learned the new forms of technology around them and how to connect with others around the world. As you mentioned in your blog post we now have technology and social media all around us in all that we do. We are receiving or emails and face books posts and instagram pictures all on our phones and tablets.
    As technology has continued to advance people have learn to record and share and send files, movies, clips, pictures etc worldwide. I agree with you that as teachers we need to embrace the new forms of technology and incorporate it into our everyday teaching and into our classrooms. When we were in school we were accustomed to a pencil and paper and watching a movie on an old television screen. Students now communicate with each other and interact via text and video chatting and lack social skills. We need to encourage social interaction through the forms of technology as well as encourage students to have face to face social interactions. I found the video on Khan Academy to be compelling in the idea that students can connect with each other and learn off of videos that others have created on specific subjects. I also feel as though these online spaces such as Khan Academy allow students to find all the resources they need and have it all at their fingertips.
    In reading the article by Williams I learned that many people feel as though they are living a double life when it comes to technology. He touches upon the idea that we should be questioning our students on how they feel about technology and we should ask questions about how they feel towards technology. The idea that not all students have technology at home or have access to computers or tablets. As educators we need to take notice and watch carefully to ensure that our students real identity is not hiding behind a computer screen or a text being sent to a friend. This article talks about connecting technology at home and school by giving students the options to have assignments that are based on the computer or online. This gives students an outlet to become immersed in reading and writing online. Educators have to be willing to take in the concept that technology through texting is an example of a student writing and expressing themselves. A teacher can not assume that all forms of technology should not be allowed, there just has to be a balance presented in the classroom. As educators we should allow students to teach other students and invite them to discuss technology.
    In the article by Leander it focuses on the concept of using technology in schools via laptops. The idea that there are schools and classes that try and give students laptops and teach all instruction via the internet and online instruction. This articles touches upon the idea that there is danger in allowing student to work on the internet due to internet safety and danger online. There is also the problem that computers and technology at times distracts students from the task at hand. Another problem that this article discusses is the concept that students over time learned to copy and paste and cheat on their assignments. Lastly I want to mention that this article touched upon the fact that teachers who used this approach realized that their students were losing their true identity when they had minimal social interaction and everything was presented to them online.
    I like the cartoon you have an agree with the concept that classrooms should have a balance but should be student centered. Educators have to open their hearts and minds to the new approaches to teaching. Technology is a new entry way of exploring education.

  3. Katie,

    I agree with Anstey and Bull (2008) that technology today is used for communication and for providing information (p.14). I use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Gmail to communicate with friends and find out information. Sometimes I even log into Facebook to find out from my colleagues if my school is closed due to weather. I find out quicker from Facebook than the news. News travels so quickly via social media!

    Yes, technology is totally changing the way we teach in a positive way. I am a special education teacher and my students need to view things several times in order to take in information. They all learn at different paces and technology such as PowerPoint and YouTube allow them to “view, review and review again” if need be (Salman Khan).

    I do not think that technology is dehumanizing the classroom. Students can work together on computers and teachers can use technology while having whole class discussions. Interactive exercises and video lectures are engaging for students. It is also easy to view, access and it is very fast. However, us teachers need to be aware that not all families are fortunate enough to have computers at home. Teachers can therefore allow students to go on computers while at school. One thing that I feel could be a downfall to the Khan Academy videos is, what if students still do not understand the math material after reviewing it at home? What if their parents can’t explain it to them? Is it still beneficial?

    I agree with you that us teachers need to embrace the new forms of technology into everyday teaching. I love the cartoon about the flipped classroom. The classroom should be a more student directed environment than teacher directed environment. Students are supposed to lead discussions and teachers are to only provide feedback and support when needed.

    I hope to become more tech savvy by the end of the semester! Great post!

    Talia Cerniglia

  4. It’s amazing what technology can do and how teachers are utilizing it (or at least trying to) in their classrooms. It’s amazing to see second graders using the internet to search topics such as their favorite animal and then write a short piece about it on laptops. Children today are learning so quickly how to use technology. For example, there are plenty of two year olds who know how to work their parents I-pads! Although it can be scary to bring technology into your classroom (especially if you are like me and can barley work your T.V remote) because it’s new and because of all the potential implications, such as the ones Leandor discussed like the physical barrier created once the laptop screens go up (39), it is still worth our time and our re-imagining of what technology can do and create. In addition, I agree when William states, “students excel at those activities in which they are invested and experienced” (705), and technology is invigorating and refreshing for students compared to paper and pencil.

    I really enjoy the question you pose about the flipped classroom. This is something in which I have been reading a lot about on educational blogs. Many teachers say how they are so helpful because they can get a lot of information packed into 20 minutes are so. Many teachers also love how these online videos seem to capture their students attention more so than a lecture would. However, many teachers wrote about experiencing the same issues. One of the main concerns being the fact that not every student has a computer at home or access to the internet. One teacher commented that he solved this problem by allowing those students to stay late or come in early to view the lesson.

    The video you attached, in my opinion, really expanded the benefits technology has in our world today. We need students to be comfortable and eager to use technology and the internet because clearly it is what connects our entire world together and ultimately will be in the hand of every person on planet. I believe education and technology must co-exist and I know personally I have much to learn!

  5. Just by the amount of material that has been shared with us from this point really shows how accessible information is today. Technology helps make information readily available (as well as it being presented in our Literacy and Technology course). 🙂

    Anstey and Bull (2006) draw our attention to the fact that technology gives people easier access to information and in many cases, makes them more aware of particular information and/or global events. Kahn urges educators to use technology to flip the classroom to allow students to use online tools and connect students from across the world to learn from each other. By incorporating such practices, students are given more time to interact and learn from their peers and teachers in the classroom. Kahn’s flipped classroom really encompasses several appropriate teaching practices, of today, with the emphasis on the tool of technology. Williams (2005) urged educators to connect the use of technology (which many students are engaging with at home) to school. Making a connection between students’ work in school and activities at home creates a meaningful learning experience for students and encompasses the “look and feel” of schools that Leander () discusses is changing.

  6. It is really wonderful to see how the career of teaching has become so much more global with a much smaller community because of different forms of technology.What you wrote above is true, looking at pictures of decorated classroom and bulletin boards on facebook, and seeing other teaching ideas and styles on pinterest has helped teachers all over the world interact easily with each other! There are online professional development opportunities all the time, and the ease of access to lists and lists of different teaching organizations that are hosting professional development seminars can be constantly at your fingertips! As you quoted from Anstey and Bull, technology is providing the information teachers need, and the communication that can help classrooms and schools grow!

    When thinking about the Khan Academy post and videos, I can’t help but think back to all of the visits to crayon factories, shoe factories, and fire stations, I used to watch Mr. Rogers take on his children’s show. Being a visual learner, I learned so much from those videos; much more than I would ever likely learn from listening to a story being read. Watching videos like these can also help inspire the children to want to make their own videos of things that they want to share and express to the world. I teach Kindergarten, and while my students are learning how to write, they are not quite at the point where they can sit and write out everything that they can express orally. Making a video is a wonderful tool that they can use to help them participate and contribute to the world around them even at such a young age.

    On a similar note, I know many middle schools participate in a mystery skype activity, where a class will skype with a school in another state, or country, and the children they skype with give clues so that the other class can try and guess where their school is located.

    The ideas I just mentioned were all running through my head when I was reading the Leander article. In the text they seemed to have a difficult time integrating the technology appropriately, without losing out on things that they valued in the classroom. I feel that it is so important to constantly remember that the technology is not there to replace another topic, it is there to enhance the topic. You can shift gears mid discussion if a class conversation goes in a different direction! When reading a story, you come across the word “pay phone” and no one in the class knows what that is, you can easily pull up a picture and explain what it is. The same applies to other seemingly common, but really not so common things such as a tractor, VCR, and a fireplace.

    There is so much to learn and so much that can be explored within this topic! Great post!

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