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.