Using Technology to Challenge Students

I also believe that simply throwing technology into classrooms will change nothing. We need to challenge our students to use these tools to create, to connect, and to tinker. Do we believe that we are preparing students for the future simply because we’ve spent thousands on iPads or SMART Boards or whatever shiny gadget has garnered society’s attention for the moment? If so, then our educational technology is focused on the consumption of products and information at the expense of creativity, connection, and community.

In this excerpt from an article in the Fall issue of Education Canada (see link above to complete article!), respected Manitoba educator Clarence Fisher wonders whether we just trow new technology in classrooms to say we have it or if we use the technology to challenge kids to create, share and ‘tinker’. An important question to consider, often new interactive white boards, for one example, are put into classrooms without a clear plan for their use. Check out the entire article at the link above. Do you use your technology to challenge your students in the ways Clarence suggests?

(from: Building Cool Things | Canadian Education Association (CEA))

Don’t Use a 2.0 Technology in a 1.0 Way

As we have progressed, not only in our use of technology but also our understanding of effective leadership, we know that communication includes effective talking but, more importantly, listening. Being able to hear what is being said from those we serve is extremely important to how we develop our schools, and the conversation is extremely valuable. Yet, many schools and organizations use social media in the old fashion: sharing information but not having a conversation. In reality, just because you have ears doesn’t mean you are listening.

Ultimately, this is not about having a Twitter or Facebook account but about how we use it and about rethinking the work we do and how we connect to those we serve in our schools. … We need to not only get into the same room but also talk when we are all there.

Wise words and advice from George Couros, be sure to read the entire post (link above). Using Web 2.0 as a consumer is fine and is useful, but consider the possibilities if it is used for producing, sharing and conversing. How are/will you use the tools of social media?

Get Connected!

Being connected is an opportunity for educators to learn and maintain relevance. It is not arrogance or conceit to think this way, but rather the result of a technology-driven world where collaboration through social media can be a tool for the common good.

This statement from a blog post by Tom Whitby, popular edublogger, argues for becoming a connected educator. Getting connected can be the gateway to many opportunities.

(from post: Does being connected help in being recognized? « My Island View link above)

Digital Technology & Motivation

Technology’s role in today’s classroom, then, isn’t to motivate. It’s to give students opportunities to efficiently and effectively participate in motivating activities built around the individuals and ideas that matter to them.

This passage is in a post by Bill Ferriter on Larry Cuban’s blog. In the post it is from, the contention is made that technology itself does not motivate students, rather it is the opportunities it can help facilitate to engage students socially in things they are interested in. So start with the kids and the ideas, then look at which digital technologies can help support the learning.

(Original post: Are Kids Really Motivated by Technology? (Bill Ferriter) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice)

Turning off the gadgets?

Step away from the computer (or your friends)

That’s exactly why they have so much to learn from going without their gadgets, according to Steven Womack, a high-school English teacher in Franklin, Tenn. He challenges his students each year to go three days without technology. In the five years he’s given the assignment to his Grade 11 English class, barely 5 per cent have had the willpower to endure. Still, he persists.

I think there is something missing from this statement. Yes we can connect with people face to face, but so many times we don’t realize that we are not asking kids to go away from their devices, but we are asking them to move away from human connections. Just not connections in the way that we used to do it, but in the way they do it. We have to be careful with commentary like this as it says that technology just provides us technology, and nothing else.

 

George makes a good point in his comments about this excerpt. It is sometimes nice to turn it off – but what are we really doing without when we do?

(this is a first – a quote about a quaote!)

The Tech Infused Classroom?

And that’s when I realized — it’s not enough to embed technology.  It’s possible to embed technology in every aspect of teaching and learning and it still be a completely teacher-centred classroom.  The teacher in control of what is learned, how it’s learned and for a large part, how students show their learning. This needs to change.

The real power comes when students take responsibility and ownership for their learning — when they become co-creators of their learning experience, rather than their education being something that is done to them. This is where true student empowerment and engagement begins.

This post by Saskatchewan educator Shelley Wright tells a few wonderful stories to make the point that it really is not about simply infusing (embedding) tech, it is about giving up control to students, allowing them to direct their own learning. What are your thoughts? How can we move to a real student centred pedagogy? Please take the time to read the entire post.