Learn by going where to go

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

–Theodore Roethke

Hello, world. I’m the technology coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh English Language Institute, an organization which teaches adult ESL learners who primarily have professional or academic objectives. I’ve also been teaching courses in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and grammar at the ELI for four years.

Me (tall guy, center) with two other ELI instructors and several students at the Phipps Conservatory

Because I teach in addition to being the technology coordinator, I’m in the thrilling position of being able to bring the latest technologies and techniques into my classroom, work out the kinks, and then share the best practices I stumble across with my colleagues. I hold multiple technology workshops per semester to keep my fellow teachers informed of what new resources and techniques are available, and I attend multiple technology-in-education conferences per year to top off my own technical knowledge and to keep track of emerging trends in education.

This blog is a way for me to continue to aggregate and spread knowledge about technologies useful to teachers. My own experiences come from teaching language, but I hope to cast a wide enough net to keep things relevant for teachers of other subjects.

Photo by veroyama, CC-BY-2.0

Technology in education is a big field. It’s a savannah of heroic proportions. If you try to consider every learning context, every student’s needs, every subject taught, every modality of assessment, and every combination of technologies which can be brought to bear, it’s clear that no one person can do more than scrape the surface. But we’re social animals, and our logical linguistic brains, strapped as they are to the curious, bucking horses of instinct and wanderlust, are drawn to joyfully explore new ideas and to share that joy of discovery with others. It’s visceral. It’s primal. And it’s what teachers are born to do. Isn’t that amazing?

Let’s not browse endlessly on one or two outcrops of minutiae. Let’s explore. Let’s leave the sun-cracked trail and see what new and strange ground rises to meet us. Let’s roar through the wind.

Let’s ride.

One teaches out of love: it’s an impertinence, an imposition, in the end it’s terrifying. When I say I teach out of love, I mean just that, by God.

–Theodore Roethke, poet