Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teachers reflect on the last 20 years

As a part of our opening session, we had teachers think about the changes in a wide variety of areas compared to K-12 education. You can see the full powerpoint and the list of presentations.
The teachers worked in groups to comment on the changes they had seen in technology. At first they were instructed to make lists, then they made a sentence to capture the critical differences. We used Etherpad to write the comments.

If you haven't used Etherpad (or the identical Type with Me) before, the basic idea is that you can co-construct something at the same time. It is like Google wave but more limited. However, it has the advantage of being instant, with no login. Etherpad was in good form yesterday, but seems to be down as I am writing this.

With Etherpad/Typewith.me, you can create your own title, or let the application generate one for you. Next time, I'd make my own, as a the lowercase L and the capital I looked too similar and we wound up with two pads, here and here. Looking over the pads shows some interesting things about how this group of teachers, all of whom are trying to use technology in their classrooms, feel about the technical changes. Sometimes they are positive about the opportunities, but many times they are concerned. I think that the opening session reveals many of the challenges we face as teachers trying to embed technology in our teaching, including the pace of change and the challenges that our students present as digital learners.
I am not sure we really understand what digital learners mean - sometimes we think it means uses computers in an expert way. Our students aren't computer experts any more frequently than we are, they just prefer to take and use information differently. I wish we had more chance to discuss this.

After we looked at how banking, travel, books, movies, music etc. were all changed (think both the technology and the underlying way of interacting) in the last 20 years, we came to the slide of K-12 schools. It was the first example of silence, followed by a little whispering, clever comments and some laughs. It's hard for teachers to get to that visions of engaged digital learner to be a reality.

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