In today’s Wall Street Journal, reporter Kevin Delaney asks the question and answers it with blogs, wikis, RSS and the like.
Pioneering teachers are getting their classes to post writing assignments online so other students can easily read and critique them. They’re letting kids practice foreign languages in electronic forums instead of pen-and-paper journals. They’re passing out PDAs to use in scientific experiments and infrared gadgets that let students answer questions in class with the touch of a button. And in the process, the educators are beginning to interact with students, parents and each other in ways they never have before.
Very cool, especially since many in our community including Tim Wilson, Tim Lauer and yours truly are featured, as well as a nice mix of other teachers using other interesting technologies. Wish I could post the whole thing here, but you know how copyright is. Time to fire up the ProQuest account, if you have access to one.
A few other excerpts of note:
Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Ore., also uses Web-based publishing technology to open up new possibilities in communication. Fifth-graders send classwork, and essays and articles for their monthly newspaper, to a wiki over the school’s network. Teacher Kathy Gould goes to the Web page and writes corrections and comments directly into the text — instead of posting a note in a separate “comments” section, as with a blog. Students can then access the wiki to read and respond to her comments.
How neat is that?
Some school administrators caution that much of the new technologies’ educational value has yet to be proved by any academic research. Some schools have slowed teachers’ efforts to introduce blogging in particular because of concern about what students might write, and be exposed to, online.
Technology presents other problems. Teachers have to learn it themselves and then figure out how it can serve the ultimate goal of teaching the curriculum. And, of course, students sometimes use computers to cheat, harass other kids or just waste time.
But grass-roots tech advocates say that they see improved learning already, even if formal studies to support that don’t yet exist. And others say that as kids get more tech-sophisticated, they have no choice but to experiment with new ways of teaching their curriculum.
Ok, have I broken the law yet?
At a recent conference here in NB (Canada), Mark Prensky (www.marcprensky.com) gave us a couple of neat phrases read from HS students’ T-shirts that say a lot about the kids we teach today:
“It’s not attention deficit, I’m just not listening…”
“Whenever I go to school, I have to “power down””
“My cookies on my computer know more of my interests than my teacher”
Corrie Bergeron says
Ok, have I broken the law yet?
Fair Use…Fair Use….Fair Use… 😉
As an instructional designer, I’m still trying to figure out how – or if – blogging is fundamentally different from “traditional” means information-gathering and communication, including such hoary tools as Usenet and email.
The benefits of using word-processors to teach writing have been well documented. What do blogs and wikis bring to the table?
The Web gives us access to firehoses of information, but then, so does a major university library. It just takes less time to access it online. Is that necessarily a good thing? Are we teaching students to be reflexive rather than reflective?
This isn’t intended to be contrarian – I like cool new toys as much as the next person – I’m just trying to wrap my poor Pooh-like brain around what it means.