Sunday, December 9, 2007

Connected Learner

We are living in a connected world. Traditionally we connected with individuals through telephone conversations, letters, going to work,  social events, newspapers, and television. Though these traditional methods are effective still today, there are new mediums that are allowing individuals to exchange information in real-time from anywhere in the world. This is the digital age. What is most exciting about this age is that it is still in its infancy.Our students/children are products of this digital age. They are "digital natives". They are connecting through a variety of digital technologies. Cell phones, text messaging, social networking sites, blogs,, you tube, and wikis are all examples of the ways that kids are connecting. We have packed these tools as "Web 2.0" What impact does this have on learning and education? As educators and parents, what is our roll in embracing these communications vs. protecting our kids from them? Should we block or educate?

With the internet and these above mentioned technologies students have information at their finger tips. They can find the answer to almost any question within minutes. With this access they lose motivation to memorize things like facts and formulas. Is there a danger here or should we as educators change our instructional methods to accommodate these new resources? 

In my opinion, these technologies are a fantastic tool. They are a resource that allows our students to direct their own learning. We aim to channel the development of these skills into curriculum by creating projects and learning activities that utilize them to promote critical thinking and problem solving. Curriculum should not be driven by technology. It should however, be utilized as a primary tool in education.

Our goal should be to have our students become the individuals providing the answers to other individuals utilizing the existing technology. Development of content knowledge and critical thinking does require the ability to maximize the use of technology. However, the technology skills alone will not complete the education of a child.

I welcome your comments on this topic.

Monday, November 12, 2007

One to One vs. High Tech Instructional Tools in K-4

1 to 1 appears to be the goal of most technology facilitators and educators. Putting a computer in the hands of every student is were we strive to be. I question the ROI of this in an elementary school setting. Is a laptop in the hands of a 2nd grade student as valuable a tool as an interactive whiteboard, wireless response system, and shared computer lab? A $4000- $5000 cost per room vs. a $20,000 equipment cost + mgt costs. Can we address the the multiple learning styles in our rooms, provide on-going formative assessments, as well as use computers as a tool in some parts of the instructional process? I believe this can be achieved with a higher ROI using interactive boards, wireless response systems and an available computer lab.

I invite your comments on this topic.