Sunday, April 19, 2020

Technology Will Not Save Us

This morning as I made a cup of coffee my iWatch sent me an alert:  "Make it happen today."  While I appreciate my watch's optimism, it sounded a little disconnected from the times.  Don't you know I'm under stay at home orders?  Don't you know we are working from home?  Don't you know we are in the middle of a pandemic that is so tragic I am just happy to have gotten myself up most morning?  That's technology.  It attempts to know us, but it doesn't really know us.  

So here we are teaching from home and wrestling with all kinds of new questions.  At the same time, resources to make it all easier are being sent our way.  Companies are opening their platforms so that we can utilize their sites.  It's a little hard to not feel like a kid caught in a candy store.  There are are so many sites that usually have fees for use that have opened.  As I review these sites, I just can't help but be reminded that technology doesn't really know our learners.

You see, I've been fortunate to walk alongside teachers during this unusual time.  I have been so awed by the way they work to find resources that meet the needs of their learners.  As teachers, we understand that putting kids on a program might give them something to do, but it doesn't necessary give them something to learn.  Computer programs can't know a child's preferences the way we can.  Computer programs can't connect learners to their peers the way we can.  Computer programs can't build that love for reading that so delicately must walk alongside the development of skills.

I was recently reviewing a site that touted being "scientifically researched."  Oh, that can mean so much.  I couldn't help but think about the difference in learning for a child jumping on this program and one who has the opportunity to continue to read, write, and connect with their friends and learning community.  I couldn't help but think about the teachers I've been working with who are finding ways to maintain those next steps in building concepts of print, develop knowledge of letters and words, grow the thinking of their readers, support next steps in writing and help young learners continue to progress during this crisis.  In these first weeks, we've been discovering ways to maintain what we know to be essential for our literacy learners while adjusting to their situations.  We are supporting learning in the midst of crisis.

So while sites open their doors, we continue to look for ways to connect our students with their community. We continue to think of ways to support the literacy development of our young learners. We continue to find ways to get students away from their screens as not all learning has to happen there - and right now we could all use a screen break. We continue to value choice and learner agency as we empower students to have opportunities to create instead of consume in this new learning environment.  Most of all, we continue to walk softly and nudge learners forward knowing that now, more than ever, we have to meet them where they are.

You see, technology will never know what we know about our learners. Though it is helping us in this crisis, technology will not save us.


  1. Amen Cathy! Amen. Very well-stated! Miss you and hope you’re doing ok.

  2. Absolutely well said!! I’m amazed at the numerous resources and websites that are available. But sticking to what we know and value ... that’s priceless!

  3. I agree with Mary Lee - brilliant!