Today I was reading a blog called Teknophilia. The author had re posted a blog he had read on another blog by Jerri Kruse. The blog is called Teaching as a dynamic activity and the post is Less Do, More Think. Jerri makes some good points but I believe that he has overlooked some pieces of the puzzle. Read on past the break to see what I think about it and then leave a comment. We love them here at IT Babble!
I’ll just start at the top:
In his opening paragraph, Jerri makes this statement.
What I have seen is that more technology leads to no fundamental change in teaching.
The focus of Jerri’s argument is about the education that takes place in the classroom, but I ask you the reader to broaden your scope a little. The educational process are not mere moments that take place only in the classroom with a teacher and a well organized and executed lesson plan.
Let’s start with e-mail. E-mail has dramatically changed the way that teachers, administrators, parents, and students communicate with one another. Now you might be saying to yourself “Yeah, but e-mail doesn’t teach you anything,” and well . . . yeah, you’re right. What e-mail does do is allow quick, effecient communication to all the people involved in the learning process. Struggling students can be identified by a teacher and the process (which probably took weeks) can now be addressed within the same day. Letting parents know was usually a ten minute phone call at the end of the day (if you had time). Now it is an e-mail that the parent can respond to that same day. Parental involvement in a child’s education is paramount and right now an e-mail or text message is probably the best and quickest way to get a hold of a parent. How can this not change the landscape of education? I believe it already has. For some research on the importance of parental involvement click here.
This is just one instance, another could be electronic grade books. Keeping a paper gradebook takes time and when you start to figure in weighting grades, even more is done. Take away this requirement and you have more time to focus on your craft. Simple and with more time to focus on teaching, better units, communication, and collaboration have an opportunity to happen.
This next point I definitely agree with and I think it is an area of true concern:
Our tools reflect our goals. If our goal is to make students into information compilers, than we should continue on our merry way. If our goal is to make our students discerners of information, then we need to re-evaluate our trajectory. Google does not discern, it sorts based on popularity. Prezi doesn’t discern it adds a layer of entertainment. Twitter doesn’t discern, it removes layers of nuance. Blogs don’t discern, they give equal voice to novice and expert.
Well said Jerri. For example, I have seen teachers using Prezi or Animoto and while it looks cool I ask myself why. How does this help or benefit the child’s education? Was the focus of the technology how to use the technology or the content that it has been filled with? Is it used just as something different or something worthwhile? Students should be exposed to such software, but when a teacher uses it as a final grade or product, the educational process has become broken.
When using technology I try to ask myself a few questions?
- Does it positively benefit the student’s learning?
- Does it have to be technology or is there another way?
- If there’s another way is the technological approach better?
- Does the technology detract from the content being learned?
If I can answer yes to all, then I’m more then willing to take a critical look at the technology. This is why I am such a big proponent for Edmodo. It doesn’t get in the way of the teaching process. It runs in the background and when the student is at home or at a computer. It is not necessary for the day to day instruction at all. It provides a means to post questions, answers, and opinions in a safe and peer rich environment. It is not essential to my classroom, but it does make it better by extending the content, assignments, and communication of the classroom outside the classroom.
I’m a little mixed on his next issue.
I’m not saying get rid of technology – I’m saying teach our students about these issues. Teach them to be critical consumers of technology. Teach them how the technology causes them to lose important aspects of themselves.
Once again, well said. The problem here is that why teach only students? There are many, many teachers (in my school alone) that are not critical consumers of technology. They jump on and off a bandwagon, expect technology to just “work,” and get easily frustrated when it doesn’t. This doesn’t just go for teachers either, it goes for administrators as well. If these people are not critical consumers, then why would teachers think it is important? As far as the last line in this paragraph, I’m not exactly sure what Jerri means here. I am going to guess that he means, the students are using technology as a replacement for aspects in their life, such as meeting face to face, proper research skills, and becoming engaging learners. If that is so, then I kind of agree. Technology is not always the best way. In most cases it isn’t, but if you’re trying to collaborate on a presentation, sharing a document using Zoho or Google Docs can really help the process. Again, it goes back to what Jerri writes a little earlier: Teach them (students) to be critical consumers of technology.
In his last paragraph:
I’m also saying we need to stop for a minute and think about teacher use of technology. Right now, we have a lot of people saying “do”, we need more people saying “think”.
Yes and yes and . . . I think you forgot something. We can’t just think. We need to do more. I suggest we investigate, learn, educate our colleagues, and promote technologies that actually enhance teaching. Thinking is certainly part of that process, but it just isn’t enough.
In closing, I’d like to say that technology isn’t going anywhere. It is only going to become more and more ingrained in our daily lives. Don’t believe me? Look at the world around you. Newspapers and magazine sales are on the decline. Why? The information is online. Bill Gates says that in five years, the Internet will have the best information in the world-not your local higher education location. Look at robotics and how technology is improving it? To think that this giant shift caused by improving technologies is going to pass over education and the learning process is not very realistic. I would rather be out there exploring, experimenting with it as opposed to just thinking and waiting.