Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LIS If you had a cool new car in the driveway, would you drive it?

Schools today are being given so many opportunities to learn about technology, apps, podcasts, wikis, skyping, and all sorts of Web 2.0 technology. When I was in high school I wrote my senior thesis (about Charles Dickens sad life portrayed in his literary classics) by hand. I was taking honors English in 11th grade and our class had to write the final copy at home over the computer. I was the only person without a computer. I'm not saying we were poor, but my parent's factory salary, at the time, didn't permit us to go out and buy a computer. Most of my friends had only gotten computers within the last 2 - 3 years anyways. So, I had to hand write (can you hear my moans and groans) my entire rough draft and final copy. And, I lived to tell about it.
By the end of my senior year, we had a computer, but it was a stationary machine that was not connected to the Internet. By my freshmen year at college (Fall of 1998) Technology, Internet, Modems, Chat rooms - it was like an overload to me. The time I finished by second bachelor's degree (2007) my ability to use this technology had come a long way. Now I can understand how a teacher may have felt back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, because I too felt that sense of unease with technology. It was overwhelming and people were learning together. However, ten years later, that excuse doesnt' sit too well with me. I compare the package of available technology that most teachers have access to with a car. They're both shiny, new, and incredible. Maybe even a bit mysterious. But, if you had a new car in your driveway, would you just let it sit there and let your neighbors admire it? Not me, I'm eager and enthusiastic! I just bought a new car and I love driving it, showing it off, and learning how I can download music to it with my mp3 player. On the other hand, it's hard for me to understand why teachers don't respond the same way with the technology, professional development opportunities, and training they are given freely and given time to use during their paid work day.
Bill Richardson's Chapter on how great weblogs in and of itself is great. He's right on the money by explaing how students and teachers can use web 2.0 technology to enhance lesson planning, comprehension, communication, test prep., enjoyment of the class, learn new tech....the list is endless. We as educators can learn so much form our studtents, so let's allow them to teach us a thing or two. I think we need to take risks, for example, and see how a portal or class weblog (private to your class members and in line with school tech. policies) can reduce time spent on lecture, passing out papers, and going over directions and replace it with greater discussion, critical thinking, in depth analysis of important question, and long list of other postive attributes. This approach can be done safely and with positive effects. Check out these blogs by educators about weblogs in the classroom.




We all know how hard most teachers work. Maybe weblogs will eventually take a little work out of planning, if you're willing to put in a little work to get the ball rolling. The possibilities are endless.

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