Technology is ever evolving. From smart phones to laptops to netbooks, it has pervaded every aspect of our lives, including the classroom. But Pierson teacher Sean Kelly believes this trend will make school lessons more efficient and interactive. Kelly is trained as a history teacher but will spend the majority of his time this year acting as technology coordinator for Sag Harbor teachers.
In the first few weeks of school, Kelly has spent much of his time acclimating teachers to their new Toshiba laptops, introducing them to the nuances of certain software and hardware, and helping them use LCD projectors and SMART boards in the classroom, in addition to teaching two history courses. For Kelly, technology should heighten students’ educational experiences and facilitate educators’ ability to clearly convey a lesson.
“I need to make sure the teachers have all the necessary skills with hardware and software so that technology isn’t an obstacle or a burden,” said Kelly during an interview in his Pierson office with three computers resting on his desk.
In fact, contends Kelly, technology will make teaching easier and more efficient. He explains that with an LCD projector, which can be connected to a computer, teachers can project the screen from their laptops onto a screen in the classroom. The teacher no longer needs to print out and distribute packets, and can instead simply email a presentation to the student.
For the teacher who loves to roam the room and doesn’t want to be positioned next to the SMART board during a class, Kelly whipped out an AirLiner, an interactive slate that works with the SMART board, from atop his desk. The AirLiner allows teachers to interact with the SMART board remotely. They can stand at the back of the classroom and will still be able to manipulate the SMART board.
“We are encouraging faculty members to become active learners,” said Kelly. “It is gratifying to me to help my colleagues with what could potentially be very frustrating.”
The second aspect of his new title, and the one Kelly is most excited about, is integrating technology into the curriculum. As of yet, Kelly has had only a few opportunities to explore this side of the position.
“We have such a stockpile of teacher talent here . . . and I get to work with them to help demonstrate their skills through technology,” added Kelly.
Recently, one teacher came up to Kelly asking for help with a lesson on Pakistan. The educator wanted to illustrate the geography of the country to his students. Kelly showed the teacher how to use Google Earth to show a 3-D representation of the terrain and interlinked the interface with relevant websites. As the year progresses, Kelly is looking forward to spending his time on projects of this ilk.
Although technology is embedding itself into the educational setting at a heightened speed, Kelly believes the pedagogy of teaching will remain the same.
“Back when they had chalk on a slate I guess they thought everyone didn’t need ink and pen . . . Ten years ago we wouldn’t have thought that we needed to be hooked up to the Internet. Education has always done a fairly good job at keeping up with the technology of the time. Maybe it is happening at a faster pace, but through technology there is a reiteration of the same philosophical goals of teaching,” said Kelly, who graduated from Pierson. “The teachers I had, they were good teacher back then and they are the same good teachers now.”