Monday, February 1, 2010

Digital Nation

Frontline: Digital Nation


Mark Ford said...

I've grown up with technology my whole life. In elementary school, I was winding teletype tape for my father. As a high school Freshman, I asked my teachers if I could use a word processor and was told they would need to ask the administration and get back to me. I've been a teacher for almost 10 years and a corporate trainer for about that long, for a total of about 20 years in the fields of education and technology.

For whatever it's worth, here are some thoughts:

1. Teachers are too fixated on MLTI. Students have already moved beyond a laptop-centric environment. I think the laptop is still highly valuable, but other devices are needed in the classroom too.

2. Cellphones are not evil. I rarely meet a teacher who allows cellphones in their classroom. But those same teachers, if you suggested they ban laptops, would accuse you of being reactionary. Teachers need to wake up and see that cell phones have a place in the classroom. Sure, some students will abuse them, make calls they shouldn't, or text during study hall. Just like a students need to be reminded to raise their hands or put their name on homework assignments, teachers need to coach students on their use of cell phones.

Think of all the things a cellphone can provide:
- A way to communicate with the student you sent to the library to do research.
- A response tool capable of interacting with Power Point slides for real-time quizzing and interactive discussions.
- A camera, capable of shooting the notes on the board or the assignment information due the next day.

3. Students need help understanding when to plug in and when to unplug.

4. Teachers need to stop telling the world what students should already know by the time they get to their classroom. Marines, corporations, and teenagers overcome adversity every day. Stop whining and get it done.

5. Certification for technical fields needs some changes. Despite having my professional-level teaching certificate, and spending years in the IT industry - including 4 years as the webmaster for a big TV station - I can't be certified to teach computers because all my knowledge is self-taught, and the certification process doesn't have a way to demonstrate that knowledge other than taking college classes.

6. Online education needs to be taken in moderation. Much of the time, no matter what video chat software is available, there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting or a physical field trip.

7. Teachers are too rooted in their physical classroom. Students put everything in a backpack and go all over the place. Many teachers can't do the same without lugging a file cabinet full of pre-made quizzes. If a teacher can't move their entire classroom to another room in the building within 3 hours and with the help of 3 students, they are not flexible enough to take advantage of 21st century learning opportunities.

Just a couple thoughts,
-- Mark

Jim Burke said...

Good points, Mark. Can I set you up as a writer on Learning in Maine?