Sunday, April 26, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
One of the areas where she sees more challenge than solution is 1:1. The level of misuse of computers she says she sees in the classroom is far beyond what most teachers are ready to admit to. So what do we do now? 'Strolling the classroom' risks making us into a silly kind of computer-use watchdog. Demanding that pupils submit all their work also shows an unreasonable control mentality, as well as being unrealistic.
Two ways to think about this:
1. Students must have something meaningful to do. Sitting in front of their computer, they should be working. The work should lead to a product, and this product must be used for something. (Preferably, something useful or necessary for their classmates. If not, then maybe for publishing, submission for a grade, preparation for exams, etc.) Meaningful work, preferably with interaction built in.
2. 1:1 is not the problem. School is. School is experienced by many students as a) boring, b) meaningless, c) not useful and d) in conflict with central cultural values. Giving all students a small portal to the world at large has effectively undermined all pedagogical activity. Students finally have something else they can fill their time with and still avoid the problems that occur when you do not show up at school.
This is why I have said that CingT is swearing in Church. Actually, a better metaphor would be to say that "she has pointed out that our digital emperor is not as well dressed as people have said." I'm not sure if there are any good ideas for solving the problems taken up here, because I'm afraid this is not an 'educational challenge' or 'start-up difficulty', but an existential crisis for school.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Pulling apart teacher's use of technology with students and with other teachers: Dan Meyer is particularly interesting here, because he is highly tech-savvy and uses "Web 2.0" technologies all the time, but has tons of posts in his blog sceptical to tech use in the classroom. What he is using it for is connecting teachers. Darren Draper's post wondered about teachers' apparant lack of willingness for PD.
The issue is one of willingness to talk about pedagogy or teaching rather than one of technophobia.
Around here there has been some data tossed around lately that indicate teachers are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to learning about their own job. With a weak knowledge base and lots of exciting things going on, you would think that pedagogy would be a hot topic. Instead, teachers sit in the staff room and talk about anything but.
The weak scientific basis for teaching puts us in a tricky position. We know less about what we teach than hordes of specialists in our subject areas, and teaching itself is...well...what exactly is it that we know that others don't? For the young, brave and tenured, this might make pedagogy an exciting topic, but for others, pedagogy becomes a 'no-go' zone.
1. We risk weakening our own position by exposing the fact that we have a complicated and sometimes shaky basis for doing what we do.
2. An extension of this is that discussions and experiments about what helps learning best might take us to things that look very different from traditional schooling. Scary.
3. Since there is no consensus about what learning is, how it happens or how best to facilitate it, discussions about pedagogy can turn into deep ideological debates. Many teachers sense this and at the same time feel that their jobs are filled with enough conflict already. Anything that could cause conflict or disunity with other teachers is to be avoided.
So it's hard, getting teachers to learn. That's why people like Dan Meyer are so valuable. If you don't have anyone to talk to at your workplace, then join the blogosphere! Get talking.
(If you are reading this in Norway, and haven't visited Del & Bruk, then go there right now!)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The point is, the media word is changing radically. My pupils don't watch CNN or read The Times. And they're most likely never going to. These things are unlikely to survive in their present form until my pupils are adults. How do we teach media studies and the media elements in social science when the ground is shifting beneath our feet?
Image stolen from Mike Wesch http://ksuanth.weebly.com/wesch.html
The comments divide roughly in half, with half saying that Internet access at school should be limited because they or others are distracted by things like FaceBook during class. Those who defend having access in class with a few exceptions did not do so by pointing to educational value. On the contrary.
- Many argue that they cannot concentrate on class for long, so that they need other things to do. A large number said that this was because the instruction was "boring". A pupil said to me directly once that he found the school day so boring that he needed social networking to get through the day.
- Many argue that, as it is their education, it is up to them whether or not they participate. If they wish to update their FaceBook profile instead of listening to the math lesson, that is entirely their affair. Many clearly thought that it was no business of the school or the teacher what they did in class. Really.
- Many said that they followed FaceBook, etc during class, but that this did not affect their concentration.
- Several pupils claimed that they needed to be logged on to FaceBook (MSN, etc) to be able to concentrate. These pupils feel that if they are not logged on, they don't know "what's happening" and become agitated. If they are logged on, they say, they feel they are in the loop and can relax.
What on Earth are we up to? School has always been a problematic arena for learning. With the modern web, are we exploding school and changing it into something new, or are we just finally helping it achieve its full potential as a complete waste of time?
Guess my answer.