EDTECH 541: Would You Like a Nectarine?

 I stopped at a roadside fruit stand last summer. The air was heavy and warm and the aroma of nectarines and strawberries embraced me as I walked into the darkened building. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness from behind sunglasses that I forgot to exchange for my “other” glasses, I made out piles and piles of fresh produce. Southern gospel music played at a too-high volume on an old cassette player while green bottle flies landed on first one piece and then another of cut “sample” fruit, gleefully rubbing their tiny forelegs in anticipation of the juicy nectar.   The price was well discounted if I could afford the time and energy to go and pick my own fruit. I had time, and couldn’t resist the unexpected opportunity to traipse out into the orchard in anticipation of biting into a sun-warmed nectarine.

The owner, dressed in long sleeved plaid shirt worn under  faded denim overalls connected on only one side by some sort of “work around” where the original fastener had given way, led me out to a section of maybe a dozen nectarine trees. Peering out from the brim of a sweat-stained ball cap, he began “These here are Red Havens—they’re a bit early, but you’ll find a few that are ripe.”  Turning, he pointed to another section, “Those over there are ripe, but they aren’t as sweet and juicy as these…but they will keep longer.”

Smiling, he handed me the cardboard box that had previously held bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey. Cardboard dividers made compartments perfect for keeping fresh nectarines from bruising.  “Over here’s a ladder if you want to get up higher; I think that tree has quite a few ripe ones on the south side.”  Realizing I wasn’t in a big rush, he warmed up as he pointed here and there to the ripening fruit explaining how I would be able to see crimson freckles and smell the ripeness before I touched the fruit. If it was ripe, it would be sure to detach itself from the tree into my willing hand. I picked as he talked.

The digital future stretches before me with limitless opportunities. Each day I behold another use for technology – another venue for distributing information to myriad learners. Asynchronous versus synchronous, Apple versus PC, Telepresence versus self-direction, apps versus books. Choices flood the digital orchard.  My vision is to be a teacher to those who would learn. My vision is that my course design will lead learners to a set of specific objectives. The owner of the orchard did not lead me to apples, cherries, or peaches. He knew I was seeking nectarines, so he took me to the fruit and allowed me to pick while he provided guidelines, visual references, and learning.

Online learners need objectives – needless energy is spent trying to sift through the maze of information that is available when objectives are unclear. Well developed courses provide direction and clarification as well as satisfying the need to know that we learners are seeking. I have found that standards help me in providing clear objectives and relevant assessments. For my secondary education students I follow the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), 2011)and the International Society for Technical Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).

If my vision becomes reality, my students can anticipate the best there is to be had…would you like a nectarine?

Works Cited

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). Standards. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students.aspx

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). (2011). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from Core Standards: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Math%20Standards.pdf

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