Monday, February 16, 2009

Thing 1 and Thing 2

It was suggested by a coworker that I participate in 23 Things because I am a new teacher who is moderately tech-savvy. I'm already familiar with many of the "things" we will be learning about, but I lack the ideas on how to implement the technology into the classroom.

Thing 1 was interesting, but contained very little new information for me. I've heard many of those statistics before, and I often find myself disagreeing with many of the assumptions made by the argument that technology is the only way to teach today's youth.

The biggest problem I'm worried about with my students is that many of them do not have access to technology (cell phones, computers, high speed internet, etc) and would be left out of curriculum changes based on the assumption that they do. Secondly, those that do have limited access to technology often have little more than a casual understanding of how to use it. For example, students might be familiar with how to use a word processor on a computer, but often lack the ability to properly type in a URL and rely on Google to find the websites they need. Finally, the assumption that simply integrating technology into a class will somehow magically transform students into self motivated learners is the most troubling for me. I worry that the huge time investment this kind of curriculum requires carries an enormous risk of backfiring if not successful. By that I mean, after spending days or weeks of a technology-related project, if students fail to take it seriously, then we simply lose that much classroom time.

I realize it may sound as though I'm entering this project with the preconceived notion that it will not work. I'm hoping to gain valuable knowledge here that I may be able to use in the future, or with certain classes that are mature enough to handle the increased responsibility.

Finally, I've kept and maintained a private blog for years. About 2 months into my student teaching experience, my students found it and I was forced to take steps to "privatize" my online self. Even now, I have to be concerned with what I write for fear of what coworkers who are reading may see. I don't worry too much about repercussions from my administration because I am careful with what I am putting online, but I do worry about how our society feels that a person's private online life can be applied to their professional performance.

4 comments:

  1. I'm also worried about the accessibility of the technologies we'll be discussing. While most of my student population is middle class and has access to computers, cell phones, and iPods, not all of them do. I hope we can talk more about this.

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  2. I understand the concern about the lack of accessibility, but I think the technology leads to more authentic learning. If it is important, then students will make efforts to get the technology. "Everyone" enjoys music and gets an iPod to enjoy their kind of music. "Everyone" enjoys learning and uses technology to enjoy their kind of learning.
    We will never have total accessibility for everything, but Web 2.0 tools enhance learning. It may just make us better teachers because we learn more and want to share more with others.

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  3. You're courageous in your reflections. Thank you for that gift. I hope that I can do the same.

    Teaching is a complex challenge when the variables in the classroom can be so many. One constant is that students bring much to the table, even if their gifts are diverse as their experiences. Technology tools, like any other instructional tool such as 6+1 Traits writing and Literature Circles (Alt Site), are effective when purposeful to students' needs with the targeted objectives. Interest or motivation alone, not enough. Perhaps the place to start is an informal survey of your students and find out what tools do they have access to do this kind of work. Start with one class and grow.

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  4. I heard someone once remark, "Education is the only sector that still debates the value of technology." I thought that was a troubling comment.

    You are correct about many of the issues you raise. We need to find ways to deal with these issues while still having students use the very tools they will be expected to use in their future.

    Great insights and I so look forward to reading more from you. Welcome to 23 Things!

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