Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blog Post 4

Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?
Scott McLeod

Scott McLeod is the director of UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the co-creator of the "Did you know?" video series and the author of the blog Dangerously Irrelevant. In his post "Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?" Dr. McLeod writes a satirical letter to those who fear technology in schools. I found this particularly timely as I was having a discussion with my sister-in-law about this very topic earlier today. She told me the highschool where she teaches color guard doesn't have wifi. Why? Because, as Dr. McLeod states in his post, "we can't trust them". Them being the students. Because there is a pervasive lack of respect for our students on a very basic level. There is this belief that we have to shield these high schoolers from the outside world. We have to make sure that we control every piece of information that they encounter. Plus, if we just ignore all this technology stuff it will eventually go away right? What happens when they graduate and go to college? They know exactly how to use the internet and their cell phones to plan a party and order a video game. They know exactly nothing about using the amazing power of technology to learn and create and collaborate.

The iSchool Initiative.

In this video Travis Allen, a high school senior, presents his solution to the budget crisis in his school district. He proposes a switch from physical media to electronic. The main tool in this being the apple iTouch. All textbooks, assignments, and grades would be accessed through this tool. Mr. Allen suggests that this would decrease costs by $600 per student and make schools greener.
I think this is a very creative and well thought out idea. Going green should absolutely be a major focus for our schools. It is a great lesson for our kids and important for our environment. The apps discussed in the video are innovative and certainly could increase collaboration and make the sharing of information between teachers, students, and parents much more efficient. However, I don't know if this is the best device for achieving these goals. I would be really unhappy if I had to read my textbooks on a 3.5 inch backlit screen. Our schools do need to increase their use of technology; I understand that kids know how to use the iTouch and the interface is incredibly intuitive but, I'm not going to write my blog posts or research a paper with it. In short, I like the theory but, I don't like the method. The same thing could be accomplished with laptops or netbooks that provide a larger screen and a full physical keyboard. The apps for grades, lunch menus and assignments could easily be replaced by a well structured school website with blogs for individual teachers.

The Lost Generation.
white text on a black background
Very clever. I think this is a great video. It made me think of how powerful thoughts are. If we believe ourselves to be powerless then we will never attempt anything great. This can apply to our students as much as us. If we as teachers stand by and say that the system is broken and we are not the generation to fix it then we will never realize our own abilities. If our students view themselves as a lazy inattentive generation that is exactly how they will act. We should inspire our students to believe in themselves and their generation.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir.
a still from the video showing the singers
Well, if I wasn't intimidated by the amount of things I don't know how to do on a computer before I certainly am now. I can't even begin to think of the complex process involved in achieving the visual component of that video. I thought I was really doing something when I made my book trailer. What a creative use of the internet. This is a perfect example of what an amazing collaborative tool the internet can be.

Teaching in the 21st Century.
Have you asked them?
I think what this video is suggesting is that we can no longer act as though we are the source of knowledge for our students. We have to embrace that our students can get information anywhere. We have to change our teaching of facts to teaching of skills. Our students need motivation and inspiration more than anything else. We are responsible for teaching them what it means to be responsible citizens of the internet. We are responsible for showing them how to use the internet in a productive way. If we continue acting as though our students need us to give them information there is no way that they will or should take us seriously. We need to acknowledge where they are going for their information and show them how to focus their skills. Being a teacher in the 21st century means teaching our students how to figure things out for themselves and how to share the information they find with others.


  1. Hi Megan-

    I was sad to hear that the school where your sister in law teaches will not allow the students to have wi-fi. So, does this mean the school does not teach computer courses? If they do teach computer courses, it makes me think they must not be very relevant to technology today. Anyway, I agree with you. If we do not teach children the learning aspect of computers, they will be at a disadvantage when they enter college.

    If the school is fearful of the internet, maybe they should have a conference like Bayside Academy in Fairhope. Bayside has guest speakers come in and inform parents and the community about facebook, texting, sexting, internet usuage etc. This helps inform parents how to use the technology themselves, which leads to monitoring their children, and talking about the applications with their children.

    This may be a little over the top, but I relate not speaking to your children about technology like not speaking to them about drugs or alcohol or sex. It is our job to learn about things that have potential to cause harm to our children. Like these other tough topics, it is not just going to go away if we ignore it.

  2. Megan,

    I am at a high school and middle school right now, and I have encountered the same problems with the use of technology and the internet. Schools are banning the use of it because they don't trust the students. It is definitely a difficult situation, and I personally don't know how we are going to fix it. I guess all we can do is fight for what we believe to be right, and we should do the most we can for our students. Technology is essential for their education so we must find ways to appropriately use the resources we have available.