Thursday, April 25, 2013

Schools today should be...

Preparing students to interact in a global economy. 

In order to prepare students to work with an international community of colleagues we need to provide them with opportunities to interact with people from around the world. Teachers also need experiences collaborating globally. Online social networks, such as Twitter, and  Facebook, provide teachers with a way to meet colleagues from around the world and around the country. These Online relationships in turn provide opportunities for classrooms to connect.

Preparing students to navigate and sift through an excess of information. 

In order to prepare students to search for and evaluate information, we need to provide them with opportunities to do just that. We need to ask students to find answers to ungoogleable questions and then have them not only share their answers, but also describe their search processes and defend their sources.

Preparing students to contribute to and consume in a media rich market. 

In order to prepare students to consume and create multi-media messages, student should be both evaluating and creating videos, podcasts and blogs. Students need to learn to be both educated consumers and producers of these messages. 

Preparing students to tackle new innovations. 

In order to prepare students to face and conquer new technology tools, we need to provide them with opportunities to solve their own problems. We can't provide them with step by step directions, but instead encourage them to seek out new tools, figure them out and communicate their learning with classmates.

Preparing students to think creatively, take risks and come up with new ideas. 

In order to encourage students to discover new ideas, we need to create learning environments that encourage and support not just failure, but also recovery from that failure.

Preparing students for digital citizenship. 

In order to teach students how to interact online, we must openly discuss issues of privacy, copyright, and online behavior. Students need to understand the difference between private and public spaces and how to behave in each place. They also need to learn how to interact online in responsible and ethical ways.

I actually wrote the majority of this post back in 2008. What I said then applies today. Have schools made any progress over the last 5 years? I think so. Are we there yet? Not quite.

Is your school doing these things? Have I left anything essential off the list? I welcome your ideas, questions and comments.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Putting the iPad in front of the horse...

I know it is a mixed metaphor, but rolling out iPads this year has been a mixed experience. In some cases it has transformed learning, in other cases it hasn't. In many cases trying to make the iPad fit the curriculum has been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Yes, I'm over doing it with the cliches on this post, but when the shoe fits...

Using iPads in my 7th grade English class has lead to some really interesting projects, and some great ways to make the classroom interactive. But at other times the iPad just isn't the right tool for what we want to accomplish. The bottom line is that the "what" has to drive the "how." Educators need to ask themselves, "What do I want students to know?" before they ask, "How will we get there?" Sometimes the "how" involves an iPad, sometimes it doesn't.

Where does this leave our iPad pilot? That is a good question. I wish we could find one tool to do it all, or that we could afford for students to have multiple devices. Perhaps there is a way to find that happy medium, but along the way I have to remind myself to ask the right questions.

Putting the iPad in front of the horse...