WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2011
When I was in school, the teacher spoke, the children listened, and that was that. As we grew, not much changed . . . the teacher spoke, perhaps used an overhead projector, an occasional film, the children listened, we learned to take notes, and then that was that.
Today, we live in a whole new world. It's called the age of technology! Frequently, education is slow to integrate what the rest of the world has been at full throttle with for oh, maybe a decade. Unfortunately, such is the case with technology integration into education.
I'll give you an example. I was working with some 8th graders on Social Studies and English research papers and the students needed some on-line references. I suggested Wikipedia. My suggestion was immediately met with astonishment on the part of my students. It seems they and their teachers knew something I didn't. You see, Wikipedia can be edited by any old hack as one of the students informed me, and he then said that they were NOT ALLOWED to use Wikipedia as a reference.
No matter how I tried to explain to the students that a part of learning involves checking your sources and comparing information and that Wikipedia is one such source, I could not convince them to go against their teachers' edicts. The students had been sufficiently brainwashed that Wikipedia was just a bunch of worthless nonsense.
So funny, today I was browsing Open Sources and guess what I found? An MIT Professor who actually used and embraced Wikipedia! An MIT Professor! By the way, this MIT Professor willingly shared his entire course on the Open Source.
Anyway, getting back to Wikipedia, why all the fuss? I just read the article 77 Web Resources for Teachers to Explore This Summer by Richard Byrne (see the link below) and there was a great example of a teacher using the Wiki application in her classroom. The students had actually compiled more information on their topic of study than the textbook contained.
Remember the old days, the teacher spoke, the children listened, . . . I didn't say we learned. Learning implies utilizing information in a variety of ways across domains of high level thinking. I can't say we did that. I did have to learn it. I learned it the hard way by trial and error in the work place and in college. However, I know I certainly need to be able to do it as an educator and a professional, and I am certain our students are going to need to be able to do it. A Wiki seems like a great classroom application for compiling information on a topic of study that will foster higher level thinking and engagement.
Another area that Richard provides a plethora of information on is programs to help students with skills, content, and/or processes. Today there are programs for reading, writing, math, and content areas. I started this blog with . . . when I was in school, the teacher spoke, the children listened, and that was that. Well, that was rather boring. The programs available now allow the teacher to change up the game plan, provide more individualized attention to some while others use the computers. Please see links to a small sampling of these programs below.
Students expect a lot from teachers, parents expect a lot from teachers, administrators expect a lot from teachers, the state expects a lot from teachers. I think teachers should make every effort to become as technologically savvy as possible, because in the end, it will make their teaching easier and their students soar.