Wading In

If you read my blog, you will know that for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been watching my kids swim for 30 minutes per day at the public pool while they take some swimming lessons.

I’ve also been following Doug Peterson’s blog post about ISTE and the term “pedagogy before technology” and all the blog responses to his post with interest.  You can find his original post here and some great follow up blogs here.

I work with a lot of teachers who are often trying out tech for the first time.  Sometimes we meet just to learn how to use the technology and other times we plan something around the technology (and pedagogy).  Some are learning how to use the tech tool before they can integrate it.  They need to learn to trust it.  It’s scaffolding like anything else:  like when teachers give their students the support they need and gradually remove them until they are able to do it on their own and then working on refining skills and refining skills and refining skills…

I was thinking about all of it as I stared at the pool and watched my girls swim and then a visual came to me.

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My one daughter is a pretty adept swimmer – she dives, swims the length of the pool and is working on breaths in her front crawl.  To her, swimming isn’t really about the water.  The water is invisible to her.  She’s not thinking about it.  It is what helps her swim.

My youngest has made some serious breakthroughs in swimming this year.  And I would argue that for her, the water is not invisible.  It really is about the water.  The water is definitely on her mind.  It’s the tool that helps her swim.  She is interacting with the water with some hesitation and not willing to jump right in unless someone is going to hold her hand.  Sometimes she needs supports like a noodle, a helping hand or a lifejacket.  And with some great coaching (could not help but plug coaching!), she is bobbing, floating and swimming a metre on her own!  The water is becoming more invisible.

Tech is like the water.  It’s ubiquitous and hard to swim without it (although, my eye could not help but to be drawn to the group outside of the pool working with a lifeguard on life saving techniques).  You can do swimming moves out of the water, but you are not going to get as far.  Having a good technique and refining the moves you make in the water become important as you move on.  The purpose for swimming becomes more clear as you move up (perhaps to become a lifeguard).  Safety is a concern no matter what level you are in.  There’s different places to swim (learning to swim in a lake with waves is something to adjust to).  We could even get technical and talk about the quality of the water and the effect that has on swimming.

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Some people catch on to swimming faster than others.  Some have a fear of the water and will avoid it at all costs. I would argue that for some teachers it still is about the tech and for others it’s about the pedagogy and the tech is just a tool (almost invisible at times because it is integrated so seamlessly).  But it depends where you are at and important that teachers get the support they need in technology integration, no matter what level they are at.

It’s not a perfect model, but it made some sense to me.

So, how can we all become better tech swimmers?  Can you help me develop this idea further?  I welcome your comments below.

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