Once again…it’s not about technology

I saw this image floating around twitter this morning and it pretty much sums up what I think about technology and learning.

boring is still boring

We don’t want to use technology for the sake of having a fancy, shiny tool to bedazzle our audience into learning. Like THAT’S going to work. An iPad is not going to instantly transform a lesson that doesn’t connect with our learners into one that does. Really, it won’t. If we try to do that, we’ll probably end up supporting the notion that it just adds another distraction to our learners because it will offer them another way to divert their attention from the same thing they weren’t connecting with in the first place.

So, allow students to use an iPad if it makes sense. But not to dress up an old lesson.

The why or when to use it is really contextual. Creating, connecting, practicing, researching…these are all good reasons to want your learners to have access to an iPad. But the real questions lie around what you are expecting your learners to create, connect with, practice, and research. Does it have meaning for them?

Do they care?

And, ultimately, do you?

Educational Malpractice…A values-charged assessment

This morning I commented on Beth Holmes post, which itself was a response to Dan Callahan’s comment on another post she wrote abour educational malpractice in our schools today.

A Malpractice Tree. Click the image for source.

A Malpractice Tree. Click the image for source.

Here’s the post I am referring to:Well, is this Educational Malpractice? in The 21st Century Centurion. So much to think about in this post! Here’s my start…and I’m not done thinking on it, but wanted to get this part of the conversation underway, so here it is:

A) If there is malpractice we need to define who is mal-practicing. I see a lot of talk about how teachers are not doing their duties when it comes to teaching thinking skills. If there is malpractice it is systemic. The teachers are only one element of what happens in the classroom. Though the strongest, they are not usually consulted when it comes to what we should teach children. Teachers deal with day-to-day live classroom activities while administrators, school board personnel, commissioners, and government ministers debate what policies and expectations need to be addressed at the school and class level. If there is malpractice it is systemic.

B) This is a values-charged arguement. In the 70s and still today, proponents of whole language learning believed that students needed to ‘discover’ language in authentic language-based situations, eschewing the explicit instruction of how language works. Many, if not most, students need to learn these skills explicitly. Personally I think it is malpractice to assume otherwise, but that is my value judgment.

C) Sophisticated thinking skills can be taught without the aid of computer technology. My most fruitful lesson so far this year has been sitting on the floor with groups of kids and construction paper creating mind maps of our learning system. Added bonus – construction paper doesn’t lose connection to a server :)

I’m now off to commit some malpractice in my classroom that has 1 working computer running a windows 2000 OS and a display that makes us think we have double vision…
:)

em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble or Hesitancy and “digital literacy”

hopfkeyrings
Image found on Wikipedia: Hopf Fibration and released into the public domain by its author, Davidarichter

I’ve stayed away from this blog for the past 2 days or so. I’ve been reading a crime novel, making a necklace, playing with my dog, doing suduko, unpacking and organizing, facebooking, and tweeting – basically keeping my mind superficially busy so that it could be free to work away on some issues in the background.

The reflection was triggered by comments on my last post.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies. I do think it important to pass on skills and knowledge regarding these technologies to my students and colleagues. So, why am I unsettled?

On Monday,Keith Gessen mused,

Nice thing we’ve got going here, this “pro-internet,” “anti-internet” debate.

(go read his post to see what he was going on about).

And as I read his post it made me think that this has all become a debate – a this vs. that – and it’s so not about that. It is, however, a resistance to the growing feeling I have that ‘digital literacy’ (see bottom of post for more on that) is becoming confused with the goal.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies, among other technologies, because I have found them to help me in my goal mission – YES MISSION – to help kids learn…

…that kindness is a trait to be valued.

…that making hateful comments like these ones have repercussions that go deep into our souls.

…that accountability and responsibility for one’s actions is heavy heavy….but, heavy.

…how to seek and find the positive in life.

…that they can find their highest selves

…that they can help others to find their highest selves too

…what it is to be a part of a community

And I can’t forget
…that they need to hang on to a sense of humour.

Ease with technology needs to be could be (depending on our immediate needs ;) ) integrated into our learning selves, but it isn’t THE goal.

Tracy.
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A virtual high five goes out to these posts I read earlier today:
Learning, Motivation, and Technology by Steve Ransom
Motoko by Keith Gessen
Resources for Community Managers by Connie Bensen
Workplace Literacy by Ken Allen

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ps – The term ‘digital literacy’ is starting to creep me out. I laughed OUT LOUD when I read Doug Belshaw’s tweet this morning. It was a good one:

Go back to where you were

Interactive Whiteboard

A few months ago I found this interesting video about a home-made interactive whiteboard (a la smartboard) made by Johnny Chung Lee, from Carnegie Mellon University.

Outside of the niftyness factor of making your own cool tool using a wii remote, this project can also create huge savings for schools. A smartboard can set you back from 1000 (without projector) to 5000 dollars (with all the bells and whistles, including integrated projector) , while this project, on top of a projector, will cost you about 45$ for the wii controller and a few extra dollars for hardware.

This morning I found detailed instructions, including free software downloads for LED pen calibration to help ease the process, for building the project on Johnny Chung Lee’s website. Very cool stuff.

Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote

Questions about learning with tech…a start

…technology integration in schools is not easy to achieve, no matter how much evidence we have that it can help learning. It’s also important to integrate technology appropriately, as critics are quick to point out that computers, besides being expensive, can harm young children who sit for hours in front of them instead of being engaged in the “real world” (Alliance for Childhood, 2000). So what is known about how people learn and the role technology may play in their learning? How might that knowledge provide guidelines for appropriate uses of technology that can help students and teachers?

Questions to ponder from the ERIC Digest: How People Learn (and What Technology Might Have To Do with It).

***added April 1, 2008***

Elona pointed me toward this great article by Mark Prensky called Turning On the Lights The last section does offer some answers to the questions posed above. Give it a read….

Prensky, M. (2008) Turning on the lights. Educational Leadership, 65 (6), 40-45.