Moritz's Blog

Friday, October 27, 2006

I've been hashing over a couple of things in my head over the last few weeks. I think that this is the place to try to clear my thoughts.
I have been observing what I am doing differently in my classes and the direction in which my classes have been going. At the beginning of the semester, I felt as though I had to speed up my style and add a lot of new dimension to make my teaching part of the 21C. I was trying to keep up with the people around me (yes, Anne :)) who seem to have it all together and know exactly what education should look like now that we are in a technologically driven age. But I now know that I do not necessarily agree with this vision. This is not to say that what is happening in the classroom across this campus isn't awesome. In fact, I am quite impressed and sometimes overwhelmed by the brilliance that seems to be happening in this direction. But I have begun to question "Is it too much, too soon?"
I had a discussion with a parent at parent/teacher conferences about the technology push at AHS. She asked a very good question. "Are freshman ready to handle, not only the academic expectations at Arapahoe, but then add a new element of technology?" I really had to think about this.
Initially I thought, "Well, yeah!" They are constantly on their cell phones, text messaging, sneaking their IPods on in class, etc. But are they really ready to give up a plain old discussion of literature in my class? Can a blog take the place of an actual discussion? I'm not sure I buy into that. Yes, I think blogging is an important new tool that people should consider using outside of classtime. Yes, I think that having students use the mediums that they feel most comfortable with is a great way to enhance their learning. But what will happen to the classroom I love to be in? What will happen to the class where I sit and talk and discuss and learn with my students as we engage in live, face to face discussion. I don't want that to go away.
This sounds as though I don't want to evolve. That is ABSOLUTELY not the case. But I don't want to lose the personal connections I make with students every day.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Thanks for sharing - these are all good questions.

For me, it's not an "either/or" situation. Just because we incorporate technology in certain ways (and not everyone will do that the same way), doesn't mean we won't have old fashioned discussions (even if sometimes those discussions are supplemented by technology). I don't think anyone is asking you to give up those discussions but, just like now, different folks will conduct those discussions in different ways. Some will incorporate blogging to continue the discussion after class, some will incorporate live blogging to supplement the discussion in class, some will incorporate live videocasting to include classes or experts or parents in the discussion. But some won't use technology at all and still do things very differently. Some will expect students to prepare ahead of time and lead the discussion (fishbowl), some will expect students to prepare ahead of time but not lead the discussion, some will do a little of each.

It's not about the technology (although I obviously feel it has a role), it's about the learning. And it's about what you think is best for your students and the world they are going to inhabit in the future. What skills, what - dare I say it - essential learnings, what habits of mind do they need in order to be successful, productive, happy members of society?

On whether they are able to "handle the technology," I think that varies greatly from student to student. But I think that's our job to help them adapt to using these tools appropriately and effectively. Because it's not really going to matter whether they are "ready" to handle it or not when they leave us, they are going to have to be able use these tools in order to be successful in the 21st century. So the question is, how best do we do that?


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