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Dilemma of an #edtech Dad

Does my professional practice mix with my personal life? Do I push my lifestyle onto my children? Are my tech-driven influences a detriment or benefit to my children? Am I creating zombies out of my kids with digital media content? With access to a wide variety of digital tools in my house, am I giving my kids too much “tech?” All fair questions…and I am not sure I have answers to all of them with complete clarity, but I am a believer in balancing what I give my children even though I am swarmed with technology as a career, personal learning network and 21st century constant learner.

Throughout my professional career, I have been dedicated in blending education with technology as a catalyst for transformation. I have combined experiences in systems engineering, information technology, professional development and teaching to build next generation school infrastructures and educational programs. I live and breathe information communications technologies as the key driver to my life-long learning.

Moreover, my lifestyle is clearly influencing how my daughters are growing up with instant access to multimedia tools and resources at such a young age. Many will argue that it is too early for such use, but I am a believer in its ability to engage my daughters in next generation learning. As much as I encourage my kids to use the iPhone for educational apps, use the computer to Skype with grandparents, and play interactive games on Starfall, I am NOT quite sure sending my kids to a “technology” driven school or virtual school would add to their education experience. Technology is embedded into our family’s everyday lifestyle, that IMHO, a school with this focus will add very little value.

Whenever I speak of technology, I speak of it in cultural change to support the broader 21st century skills and overall educational model. Unfortunately, too much attention is put on the technology tools and “coolness” factor of ICT devices, that we forget that 21st century learning can occur in many capacities. Technology should be a transparent tool within the school and not treated as  a separate novelty. Knowing full well that my daughters will naturally be engaged with ICT multimedia web 2.0 tools on regular basis (with or without school), I hope to find a school that focuses more on subjects that engage my kids in a variety of modalities (with or without technology embedded). When the day comes to search for a school for my children, I hope to find a school that will deliver on the following:

Speech and Debate – Learning the art of academic oral debating will far more provide an avenue for my daughters to gain a voice than any Voicethread or Edmodo.

Foreign Languages – The one subject area America consistently struggles with is providing an integrated foreign language education for our students. I always wished I learned my parents’ language, but I was raised to focus on English. My daughters’ are learning Mandarin at their daycare, and I value that experience so highly that I am constantly looking for preschools that can deliver a bilingual education in Mandarin. I want the experience to be authentic and not be delivered through a Rosetta Stone type product.

Applied Sciences and Mathematics – The foundation of formulas and facts are key here, but ultimately applying those concepts in applied models is where the authentic learning really takes place. I want my daughters engaged in hands-on projects that delivers on the engineering innovation process. While multimedia tools are fun to virtually model, I would rather I have my daughters take it a step further and build it.

Drama Theatre – This is one aspect of education that I have always been intimated with as a child and I feel this form of creative expression is a 21st century skill worth investing time for my daughters. While making videos is fun and creative as a student, I think the live team performance of drama is a rare opportunity to experience.

Athletics – Developing the body is just as important to a healthy education as is developing the mind. While Wii and other interactive sports tools are coming out, I would still prefer to have my daughters’ outside developing their athletic skills.

VAPA – Visual and performing arts is another form of creative expression that nurtures the soulful spirit. Providing opportunities to engage in a variety of hands-on VAPA projects touches on multiple modalities than just working on photoshop multimedia tools.

Community Service – When I went to school, the motto “men for others” help influence my path in becoming a teacher and instilling community service early will drive home the importance of helping others.

Culinary Arts – They use to call it home economics, but today it has evolved to an artistic form of creative expression. They don’t call it “feeding the soul” for nothing.

Music – This form of artistic expression captures moods and the soulful spirit in my kids. I always enjoy watching my kids sing and dance with music.

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