Edutopia writer Sara Bernard is looking for student input in terms of advising teachers on how they might use technology in the classroom.Â I’m wondering if anyone out there might want to pose the following to his/her students and send Sara some responses. It would be great to comment back here as well so we can see what kids are thinking.
What if you had to teach the classes you are taking now or something you learned years ago? How would you use technology to do it? What devices, software, games, networks, or applications would you use to help students learn more easily — and have more fun learning?
For instance, imagine that it was your job to teach algebra, Charles Dickens, volleyball, poetry, a foreign language, science, or the Civil War. Would you have your English students use Facebook to create profiles for each main character in Jane Eyre? Would you have them use Garage Band to create a World War II song or the national anthem of a fictional country?Â Would you use instant messaging or cell phones as tools for classroom discipline? Could you learn math from Mario?
The point of this is for Edutopia to gather specific ideas and advice from you for teachers to try in their classrooms. So, be sure to describe things in a way that a teacher â€“ any teacher â€“ would understand. You might want to mention any rules about technology and media that exist at your school and whether or not they would need to be modified. We’d love to hear as many suggestions as you can think of!
According to Sara, “student responses can be based on experiences that they’ve actually had in class or just ideas that they’ve come up with themselves. They should also feel free to offer basic advice for teachers about technology integration, or any other thoughts they have on the topic. Also, this isn’t an essay contest, so no pressure — students can just drop a few lines into an email if they like (though I’d appreciate it if they could include their name, grade level, school, and location).” Her e-mail is email@example.com.
(Full disclosure: I am a National Advisory Board member for the George Lucas Education Foundation which publishes the magazine.)
THANKS. I was just stumbling around trying to figure out what I was going to teach my students in language arts today. Perfect writing lesson plan! Would you like their response as well as Sara or should I send it straight to Sara? And can I modify the questions to get more specific answers from my middle school students?
Gary Stager says
Why is Edutopia seeking pedagogical advice from children?
This is by no means a question of student potential, talent, creativity or intellect. However, they are not experts in learning theory or curriculum design. Kids can certainly be natural teachers of what they know. Is their preparation equivalent or better than yours as a professional educator?
Why does Edutopia think that lessons prepared by students will be just the ticket to motivate teachers to use computers effectively after 25-30 years of inaction?
Bill Fitzgerald says
Hello, Gary (and Will, and others),
Leaving aside the issue of what does or does not constitute “pedagogical advice,” why not ask kids their opinions/ideas? A lack of training does not preclude a person from having good ideas. Many “experts” have a commendable familiarity with how to structure a lesson/run a classroom, but are utterly clueless when it comes to the range of options available.
And, given that there has been 25-30 years of inaction (and I’d say it’e been more than just inaction. At times, it has been poorly conceived action paired with heightened rhetoric) I’d say that listening to any and all interested parties isn’t a bad thing.
Tyler Winner says
I agree with you that students should not be the end all when it comes to how classes should be taught. However, I do see the advantage in asking students their opinions. It is the teacher’s job to connect with the students and get them engaged. I believe that it would be easier to do that with information from students. Now, some students will suggest uses for technology that won’t make sense or be practical, but I think that teachers can learn a lot about teaching from their students.
Will….you’ve probably seen this TED video, but I love it and felt it was appropriate to share here:
It absolutely amazes and inspires me. It is well worth the 20 minutes of sitting and viewing.
Gary S. Stager says
I was on a panel with Dr. Mitra back in 2004. He’s the real deal and his work should be taken very seriously.
I wrote about him here:
Ann S. Michaelsen says
I did a similar activity in my class. (Seniors at high school in Norway.) I had them listen to Michael Wesch “from knowledgeable to knowledge able” and then write about it on their blog. You can see their responses in their blogs here: http://annmic.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/engaging-the-students/
We were also so fortunate to have Professor Wesch write comments on several of the students’ blogs. My experience is that students tend to be old fashioned when it comes to learning and that this is a process we have to work on both with the teachers and the students. Just as teachers differ in their approach to the new technologies so do the students.
“Could you learn math from Mario?”
Probably not…Mario specializes in typing and geography. Donkey Kong Jr. teaches math. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Kong_Jr._Math 😀
In all seriousness, this sounds like a good way to get some ideas and feedback. Whether or not Edutopia uses the submissions, it will at least get some classroom discussion going and encourage teachers to think.
Personally, I’d rather see more teachers involved with online resources — I think having continuous personal professional development and engaging with the best ideas from teachers across the country will accomplish more than altering a few lesson plans to include TeacherTube videos and text messaging.
“Networking” is a great tool however I’m sure I could come up with alot of social problems that could come along with it … One that comes to mind is Isolation… I think it’s important to understand that with all this new technology it’s just as important to instill communication skills amongst one another in life is more beneficial then a person sitting in front of a PC. We should never forget about the greater social or cognitive skills when it comes to leaning, after all we need good Listening skills, Attention skills, Self control, Self confidence just to name a few…Heres a scary thought… One day one teacher could teach thousands at a time in several different states or countries. All thats needed is a large screen in every class room and one web cam…. scary thought! after all we don’t won’t our children to become zombies in a world of large screens …I hope this made some kind of sense after all I’m sitting here alone rambling on to myself.
Just my thoughts
Some of the traditional High Schools in my School District decided to split into small schools. In the summers the teachers participated in professional development where they designed the thematic base for their instruction and wrote project based lessons that incorporated all/most of the core subjects. Part of the process included presenting their plan to the other teachers as well as to my summer school students who were students at these very same small schools.
The students got to see part of the process involved in lesson design and were able to provide meaningful feedback to the teachers and administrators. The teachers were able to see if their ideas really were interesting or engaging and the students felt proud and empowered that they got to be a part of the process. Overall it was a good learning experience for everyone.
It was powerful for me listening to the students reactions and reflections on the experience. I still remember one student being amazed that the teachers all wanted to listen to him and were interested in his opinion and what he had to say.
Ken Allan says
Kia ora Will
Having long worked with technology for giving access to education in some form or another, I am aware that methods too far removed from what many might call ‘traditional pedagogy’ are fraught with more variables than the teacher can sensibly cope with in trying to figure out which variable did the trick.
Often in Science, as in other disciplines, students learning to gather information and write reports from these are not able to hone their report-writing skills because of some other deficiency – either lack of available and suitable resources, or lack of ability to find these resources for themselves or some other impediment. To overcome the barriers, and facilitate the teaching of report writing skills, a teacher may provide students with an array of articles and clippings, from which the students have to select and choose what is appropriate or no, to write a report on a selected topic.
Letting students loose on the Internet, especially if they are young distance learners working from home, is a scary business unless they are well supervised. Since this supervision is not necessarily always available, the young student can be provided with a selection of related, but not necessarily relevant sites from the Internet, made available to them from a single link sent by the teacher.
Using a suitable kids safe search engine, such as OneKey, can provide some measure of safety, but most students are more likely to use standard Google.
Here is a method, using OneKey to provide a pre-programmed selection of sites of suitable nature for distance learners, providing a much higher degree of cybersafety than simply letting them loose on the Internet to do their thing.
Kyle Henning says
Technology doesn’t help kids learn. In my opinion, it is a huge waste of money to put too much technology in the hands of students because like everything else, we students become accustomed to it and take it for granted. Make holograms or something, that might interest us, but as far as trying to find ways to implement technology that students are already familiar with, I wouldn’t count on that helping you out at all.
In fact I recently read a study suggesting that the kids that only used paper and pencil did as well as those that used all of the computer resources, but disregard this post if u want, i dont care that much its just my opinion and I’m a student.
I would be interested in seeing some of the responses that Sara compiles – if we’re going to try to reach kids effectively with technology, getting their input seems like a good idea.
Rachel Parish says
I am actually taking a class right now that discusses technology in education. I’ve learned so many new things that I had no idea existed. Looking back on my experiences as a student in elementary through high school, my teachers used technology a lot in the classroom. I think using technology can be beneficial. The way I learned to type was actually a computer game of Mario. The user chose which character he/she wanted to be and had to type each letter (eventually word/phrase) before it dissappeared off the screen. I’ve had professors use youtube videos, powerpoints, and many other projects to help advance the learning process. Currently in my class, my professor is using a blogging system that takes the place of a classroom setting. I have found blogging on the class website very beneficial. Not only does the professor get to share his information and knowledge with us, but every student participates. While for some this may be a problem, I’ve noticed that everyone has different opinions and insights to the topic. Along with that, something we’re working on right now is creating a TrackStar website. Now, I’ve never had experience with this, but from what I’ve learned thus far and experienced, I’ve found it to be very beneficial.
I definately think class websites and blogs should be used in classrooms if at all possible. There are websites that allow a teacher to do this for free and change the layout and design it to be as he/she wishes. I think having the information available for students to access at any given time is helpful. I think class blogs could be used as young as upper elementary school. I think a class blog would also be beneficial for parents to see what their student is working on week to week and it may help avoid any lost papers that get mixed up in a kids backpack.
All in all, I think incorporating technology into the classroom is very beneficial and can help improve the learning process.
Jeff Billings says
Makes sense to me – getting student perspectives is another piece of the puzzle. It is at best difficult to solve any problem without collecting all the data. Doing so yields solutions that are skewed. So why not collect a different type of data from those we are trying to teach?