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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Time, It's Just A Matter Of

As I said in an earlier post, I have been saving many of the posts I have read over the past months. Most of them are software or online apps that I will talk about once I get to use them in the context of teaching and learning.

There have been several conversations about filtering, MySpace, digital natives vs. digital immigrants (aliens). I work in a system, like most others apparently, which believes it is best to block anything remotely questionable. Instead of teaching, preparing, and using these tools in an educational setting (BTW the best I've seen came from a post be Steve Dembo - MedievalSpaces - simply amazing!), we prefer to promote poor use of the new tools. Again I restate, when an adult says "no," an adolescent's job becomes finding out why. So instead of allowing the teacher the right to use a video from YouTube, or heaven forbid, create a movie for YouTube, we have to tell students that the site is blocked.

The students' interest is now peaked. No more learning will happen on this day, because now the goal is to make it through to the dismissal bell so they can look up all the questionable material on YouTube when they get home. By default, we have promoted the very thing we censor. Then, the next day students begin talking about what bad things they saw, and attention to the class topics are lost again.

I have always believed that students will learn what they want to know. We cannot stop them. We may try to prevent them. But we only postpone the inevitable...our students WILL learn what they want to know. The sad thing is is that schools are not providing them with the things they want to know. Nor are we giving them the guidance they may need to become socially responsible for the material they one day will create.

I know this sounds negative, but I see this as a battle many of us have been fighting for quite some time.

BUT here is the good news I see coming. The next generation of teachers will know Social Networking (Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, ets.) and it will become so commonplace that they will laugh about how we once tried to keep kids from using these kinds of tools. Email will be obsolete (too slow) as IM, Skype, and other tools allow for immediate conversation, that somehow will not seem intrusive. Remember when many scoffed at the idea of having a television in the classroom, of telephones on the wall? I do. These items are now included in all classrooms in newer buildings. Ironically, the television isn't used much...who wants to wait on a schedule or use a video cassette that is so old it has to be tracked in order to get the lines out of the picture? Who wants to ask the media specialist to record some newscast that will not be news by the time tomorrow appears?

[However, the Discovery Education program, United Streaming, has the right idea. Provide historical educational videos, on demand, in digital format. Thanks again to Steve Dembo and his co-workers. I'm not trying to suck-up, just stating that they have the right idea for teaching in today's classroom.]

Changes will happen. Filtering and all it's false security, will fade.

I imagine a school, with a grant from a cell phone provider allowing unlimited text messages (or something even better), with teachers and students using cell phones in class taking a test, instant messaging homework assignments, contacting experts to get their take on a problem, or completing a group project with students from other countries. Educational projects 24/7. Why not? Our kids are already staying up until 3:00 A.M. learning how to use the tools we are blocking at school and making connections with people from everywhere on the planet.

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