Month: December 2014

Native? Immigrant? Is there a box for Other?

Any stereotype will have at least an element of truth when considered across a population or community and in this way, Mark Prensky’s terminology certainly rings true for many people. My own children text and type faster than I can follow and I noted that a recently retired colleague had printed almost every email she had ever received! When stereotypes limit our views and expectations of ourselves and others is where problems arise.

In my earlier post, I wrote about students seeking offline activities and it must be noted that there is a current trend away from the digital connectedness we associate with young people. On the blogsite, Cyborgology, PJ Rey wrote in 2012 about the hipster movement and a  desire to actively move away from the complexitiies of contemporary technology. Alternately, some young people just don’t have the access to technology that we expect they will. Likewise, through work or interest many people of the ‘digital immigrant’ generations are adept technology users.

Where we expect and excuse our discomfort with all things new by claiming to be outside the spectrum of those who are naturally adept, we limit our potential. Likewise where we assume that young people are all skilled tech users, we potentially limit finding those who aren’t and who would benefit from further support and guidance.

As previously discussed, collaborative processes where teachers and students work and learn together, where no one is expected to have all of the knowledge but all are encouraged to try (and fail and try again) and where there is diversity of tools and techniques will produce the best learning outcomes.

 References

Rey, P.J. 2012. Hipsters and Low Tech. Cyborgology retrieved from http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/09/26/hipsters-and-low-tech/

Wired or not? Finding the middle ground for technology in education.

Digital literacy refers to the skills required to confidently and safely engage in contemporary technology both through the use of devices and online environments. Technology and digital literacy are essential components of contemporary education needed to fully prepare today’s students for the world of 21st Century work, as digital devices and connectivity in the workplace are ubiquitous and universal. Therefore, enabling students to know how to use technology effectively to augment learning and how to be a good digital citizen is important.
The Waldorf school approach is outside the norm and heavily reported online as a unique vision. It is one that seems unusual at first exposure but with some thought makes sense. Young people are currently immersed in technology in all aspects of their lives. Experiencing offline activities, engaging in physical and hands on learning has shown results in other settings, with Gever Tully’s Tinkering School coming to mind. In this environment, young people are encouraged to use a design thinking approach to invent and create in a hands-on environment with significant results. Such a model aligns with the Waldorf philosophy.
In a comment following the Waldorf article, one respondent noted that the students are most likely plugged in within moments of leaving the classroom. As I write, I am in earshot of my two teenage children, one of whom is playing XBox online, the other happily snapchatting. Both are socially engaged through a digital device and would probably prefer it stayed that way for the rest of the evening! Even without an extended experience after hours, by the time they do a little research or online study, most teenagers will most certainly have used up the recommended screen time for the day around anything they may have experienced in the classroom.
Due to both overexposure and poor implementation, I have seen students react to the use of technology in classrooms and ask for offline activities. Overuse and subsequent overload are important factors that need our consideration when planning our learning activities. As Alan November (2013) describes, schools are often implementing the use of technology poorly; rather than augmenting opportunities to learn, the device is relied upon to somehow supply learning.
The questions that teachers need to answer in the planning process include, as Roblyer and Doering articulate, “what specific needs do my students and I have that (any given resources) can help meet?” (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 20) and, “What is the best tool to produce the desired learning outcome?”
Technology may be one of the tools in a teacher’s repertoire but should not exist in isolation; diversity in the use of learning materials and tools is essential. Allowing a range of possibilities for learning and using technology in engaging, supplementary ways is necessary to inspire meaningful learning and sustain our students’ interest.

References

Dunn, J. (2011, 12 15). What If Schools Didn’t Use Any Technology? Retrieved from Edudemic: http://www.edudemic.com/waldorf-school-silicon-valley/

November, A. (2013, February 10). November Learning. Retrieved from http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/why-schools-must-move-beyond-one-to-one-computing/

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching 6th Edition. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Tulley, G. (n.d.). Tinkering School. Retrieved from http://www.tinkeringschool.com/

 

Technology, devices, apps and learning

Greg Whitby challenges the focus on technology and devices in education at the risk of losing sight of our real business – teaching and learning. Whitby’s comments are a reminder that the wow factor of new technology will continue to amaze and hopefully inspire, but as Philip Callil mentions earlier in the podcast, there is the potential for a ‘so what’ response or a sense of lurching from one technological gimmick to another, chasing the wow factor buzz without deep learning taking place at all.

Whitby’s comments provide some solace for a widely experienced frustration that busy teachers simply cannot keep up with rapid change and development without the risk of burnout. For many teachers the rapid pace of technological change, alongside realigning curriculum with an evolving and uncertain Australian Curriculum and managing the requirements of professional learning to comply with AITSL requirements, can seem incredibly daunting and exhausting. So what is the future of technology in education? What model of thinking allows teachers to effectively use technology to promote learning?

In the past decade, as a society we have initiated one:one programs and initiatives to drive technology into education, often to ‘keep up’ and not always with a holistic plan in place. Schools are a competitive marketplace and there is often a sense that we need to provide technology that makes us appear new age. For technology to be embraced by teachers and students alike it must augment and complement other people-centred approaches, allowing engaging learning to be facilitated.

We want for our students to have every advantage, although for many educators, providing advantage with technology requires a paradigm shift. We are teaching a generation that have not known a world without ubiquitous technology and it is important to reconsider our role as educators. Our students are frequently more adept in using multiple devices, social media platforms and software than we can expect to be, so a position of knowledge sharing and facilitation needs to be assumed; be open to learning together, facilitating rather than delivering learning and empower students by being prepared to learn from them.

References:

Future Tense – 21st Century Education ABC (2012) retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/21st-century-education/4197700#transcript

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