Sunday, August 7, 2011

Technology: more than just flashy and cool

Leave it to Scott Adams to illustrate one of the main reasons why we need  to integrate technology in our classrooms NOW:

I have heard the arguments that technology as motivational tool is not an acceptable reason to embrace it, because the newest tools will lose their novelty for students long before the teachers (in some cases) have even begun to understand how to use them.  We should not look to technology as a shiny new toy that students will ooh and ahh over and miraculously want to learn the same dull stuff we taught them last year.  That is missing the point.

The point is this:  technology is where our students live.  It is what they choose to do the moment they leave our classrooms.  They text, they facebook, they blog, they tweet.  They learn new things without being "taught".  They seek out knowledge because it is part of THEIR culture to do so.  My school district bought Robyn Jackson to speak for a PD session at the start of the last school year, and one of her primary themes was about currency.  "Currency is a medium of exchange. Any behavior that students use to acquire the knowledge and skills important to your class functions as currency."  This quote comes from Ms. Jackson's article Meeting Students Where They Are  The behavior that our students are choosing to use to acquire the knowledge and skills that are important to THEM is clearly cell phones, ipods, tablets, TECHNOLOGY.  We need to harness the power of what they already know.  Activation of prior knowledge is a pedagogic necessity that precedes even the TRS-80s that I was using when I was in 6th grade.  Why should this be limited to content?  We need to activate students prior knowledge of information curation, digital communication and creation and direct this power toward the content we want them to learn.

If we meet them where they are, perhaps they will WANT to come along with us where we want to take them.

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