Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Story about Technology in Schools Misses the Point


Why does the conversation always end up of being either/or when it comes to technology in the classroom? I see "news" stories about schools with technology and schools without technology all the time. If this is still an important story to viewers then I wish news stations would get the story right.

I mean seriously! Is this story STILL about BOOKS vs. LAPTOPS? Are you kidding me? The recent story that drove me to this post came from the same local news channel that runs stories titled "Schools Using Cell Phones to Educate", and "Edu-Technology Increases Participation". And now I'm watching them pit 2 schools against each other; the one purchasing technology, and the one purchasing old school books. And not one word mentioned about pedagogy. Obviously our work is not done.

Let's start with this. Good Education vs Bad education is NOT about technology! If you don't ASK your students to engage with the works of Shakespeare they will not learn about Shakespeare. I don't care if you have technology, or if you don't. Neither the book, nor the laptop is responsible for learning. Oh and by the way, books are in deed a form of technology. In which case, shouldn't the story be about which technology your school chooses instead of having tech or not having tech?

Just because you make kids buy BOOKS on Shakespeare doesn't make your school any better than the school that offers the entire library of Shakespeare (including every movie ever made based on Shakespeare's works) on an iPad, Laptop, or other new gadget. What's important is that YOU, the school administration, have CHOSEN to ask your students to engage in the works of the gifted, and creative, men and women from the past. These were the content creators of their day and worthy of study.

Actually, while your selection is important it is only the first step. You've made this choice. Now what? How do you intend to engage your students in Shakespeare? Is it one chapter each night at home and then a worksheet to be completed with a #2 pencil? Oops, Johnny used an ink pen...FAIL!


mom: Johnny! Why did you FAIL your Shakespeare homework?

Johnny: well...um...

mom: Don't well... um... me, MISTER! You read the entire thing AND we watched that chapter from the movie 10 times and you had the entire scene memorized! And your acting was brilliant I might add...

Johnny: ...but...

mom: ...and we skyped in that Harvard Professor of Shakespearean Literature who offered you that summer internship and full ride scholarship in 13 years...

Johnny: but MOM!!!

mom: ...OH WHY!!! How on earth could you FAIL after knowing more than Shakespeare himself??? Please tell me how!

Johnny: I used the pen with blue ink instead of the #2 pencil.


Or, are you going to have your students truly ENGAGE with the works of Shakespeare? Read the stories, watch the movie, act out the parts, etc. Discuss the story with students in the class. Discuss the story with... oh let's say... STUDENTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD! If you are not familiar with technology, its important for you to know that this is possible. And SO much more!

The point most news stories miss, because most schools miss it, is that new technologies turn the entire connected world into your child's classroom. New technologies turn your child and everyone else into instant content creators and publishers. New technologies facilitate collaboration.

The question shouldn't be if new technology is better than old technology. The question is how are you going to USE the technology you have to engage your students in the content you want them too learn.

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