Mending the Digital Divide Between Generations

Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying that older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it? while the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’. 

In 2017, technology in any given form is more prominent than it has ever been in years past, but is there a digital divide between generations? Rob Sanford, HF-L’s new Instructional Technology Specialist, looks to close the gap.Sanford is starting his 13th year in the Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District only this year, he no longer reports to the same classroom every day. That is because Sanford has been named the new Instructional Technology Specialist for grades 6-12.

Sanford graduated from HF-L and went on to SUNY Geneseo to earn a degree in Elementary Special Education with a major in English and a Masters in literacy.“I have a love for technology, I always integrated technology into my lesson plans,” said Sanford.

The position of Instructional Technology Specialist was created due to a growing need in HF-L for technology support on the instructional side. Some of the duties and responsibilities of the Instructional Technology Specialist include: providing coaching for staff on various pedagogical methods for using technology to support instructional goals; assisting staff in selecting the best technologies to use to meet instructional needs of students; providing feedback to individual teachers on their efforts to implement instructional technology in curriculum aligned to Common Core Learning Standards, RTI, data driven instruction using a process that includes modeling, observing and one-on-one conferencing;  and assisting District personnel in preparing HFL staff and students for Computer Based Testing.

Sanford, 35, taught 5th and 6th grade Math and Literacy for HF-L for 12 years. He is currently working on getting his Administrative degree from the University of Rochester. “I am still considered a teacher,” said Sanford, “just a teacher on special assignment if you will.”While no day looks quite the same as the day before, for Sanford his typical week would include, working with students to learn new technology, encouraging students to bring their own device to school, working with teachers on professional development with technology, and more.“I used technology mostly in math to try to individualize the course work for my students,” said Sanford. “My classroom was always set up like a workshop to use technology to help students learn.”

Sanford went on to explain that all of his coursework was also available online for things like assessments, instruction, and practice materials. “I love my new position, it is giving me the opportunity to focus on the technology of teaching and how that impacts students,” said Sanford.

Currently, Sanford is proficient in Office 365, Schoology, Edoctrina, and IReady but he is always on the coat tails of new technology. When asked if he missed teaching, Sanford smiled and said simply, “No.” “I guess I just don’t miss it yet,” said Sanford. “I enjoy the variety of what I am doing now, but to me I still feel like I am teaching, I just no longer have a classroom.”

Walking the halls, it was always known throughout the school that Mr. Sanford was the “tech teacher,” that he always knew the latest technology and incorporated it in the classroom. “My main goal in my new position is to create an even playing field,” said Sanford. “No select ‘techy teachers,’ that every teacher is up to date on the latest and greatest technology and can pass that on to someone else.”