Tuesday, January 31, 2006
In this conference what I have observed is that there does seem to be a move from using technology as an assistive device only (pens that read aloud as you scan text, reading software with earphones that students work on independently) to talking about the expanded definition of literacy. What is interesting to me is that this is coming from a reading perspective rather than from a technology perspective.
However, during this conference I noticed something that concerned me. Some of the sessions that I attended the ones that were well attended and had energy were the ones that were what I can only call "reactionary". By that I mean that they used the word "scarey" when they talked about Wikis and the Internet. Also, they emphasized direct phonics instruction and were critical of cooperative learning. The attendees seemed to be "eating that up" and seemed responsive. I did not feel the same energy from the sessions which talked about the excitement of blogs and wikis and the importance of teaching new literacies.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
However, I stand by my comment that our priorities are measured by how money is spent. A bumper sticker I have always liked says "What if schools had all of the money they needed and the Pentagon had to have bake sales?" I know that even the Pentagon does not have all of the money it needs, especially now; but I do know that the military recruiting offices at the University of Texas seem to have lots of resources and I am sure that this is true all over the United States. I doubt that anyone questions the need for each recruiter to have a new computer with adequate software.
See, now even I am fussing about money.... The issue is not really money, but priorities and what will bring about real change...
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
What we DO know is that students using technology do NOT do substantially better OR worse on standardized tests
(there are research findings on both sides of this issue which prove that technolgy is effective in raising test scores and also that it is not).
This has led many to say that standardized testing is flawed and does not measure what the students are really learning. I totally believe this is true, but it really isn't the issue. (i.e. I am a good test taker and just took the TEXET exam for a teaching credential in Texas. It measured well that I was good at taking tests, reading, and knowing what answer was expected whether I agreed with it or not, but it did not measure how I would do in the classroom relating to students and parents.)
We ALSO know these things:
- Students who use technology are more engaged.
- In classrooms where technology is used there are fewer discipline problems and students are more often on task.
- Attendence is up in classrooms with regular technology use.
- Teachers who were going to retire because of burn out stay in the classroom and are rejuvinated.
- The WHOLE world is changing because of technology
- People expect access to information 24/7
- It is difficult, if not impossible to control communication between dissidents and anyone else
- Email is being used as evidence in high level trials.
- Technology is everywhere and even low level jobs use technology to accomplish what would have been done by hand in the past.
- Academics can easily get information in .pdf format without moving from their offices.
The world is truly changing. Why should schools be the one place where these changes are not necessary? Why should it be OK for teachers not do do email or not to be literate internet users?
The reasons for using technology well in schools and for training teachers has very little to do with standardized test scores. The reasons go way beyond what happens inside a school building.
But what holds things back? Why is there a delay in using technology appropriately in schools? One thing - $$$$. Inservice training, equipment, support, expert technicians who can design network architecture and keep things up and running are expensive.
We are trying to do school on the cheap so that we can continue to spend most of our tax dollars on weapons and homeland security.
All of the above is not to say that I don't believe that Web 2.0 and the possibility of true interaction using the web will not make a difference. It is HUGELY important. But, that is not the issue. We can blogevangelize all we want and still the same percentage of teachers will adopt the change. We can keep trying to collect DATA to prove that technologies will make a difference in learning. But until we decide as a nation that our children and future generations are important investments we will NOT make any changes to school as it has been for the last 100 years.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Here is a paragraph that I just read:
When subject matter is relevant, motivation increases. The adult student is investing a lot (time, risk of failure, extra hours away from home/family, etc.) and wants to see a return on this investment. If this return is evident, motivation to continue to learn increases.
Meaningful content and relevance in the learning situation are essential to the adult learner.
The other content talks about being student-centered and respectful. This quote stuck out for me:
They don’t want to be treated like children who must wait until they are told something by the instructor.
I have read quite a bit on Adult Learning and am always amazed. The content of the articles I have read describes what I think learning in general should be. It is not different at all from what children should be experiencing in school. Adults come to learning with prior knowledge, adults need the content of what they are learning to be relevant to their lives. Motivation increases learning. I guess it gets emphasized so much because adults can walk away, but kids have to be in school...