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Underestimating kids?

March 23, 2007

I just had a visit with one of the teachers in my building regarding an assignment she is giving. She wanted to know if she burned a template of the work the kids need to do onto a CD if we could keep a couple in the library so if her students wanted to use the template they could get the CD and use the template off of it. Now, we have this wonderful thing called School Web Lockers (SWL). One of the functions of SWL is the ability for teachers to post assignments to all of their classes by uploading a document. Students can then access their “locker”, see the assignment, complete it, and turn it in to a “Homework due” section. The turned in assignment can be accessed through the teacher’s “locker”. The teacher can then grade the assignment right on the computer and upload it back into the student’s “locker”. No printing is required.

I recommended this method to the above mentioned teacher and was shocked at her reply for not using the technology. The first reason she was a little legit: time. She was running up a against a deadline and had not used the SWL before. Her second comment gave me food for thought and led me to this posting: the kids would get too confused with the technology. They wouldn’t be able to do it and it would take them too long to learn how to use the “lockers.” Plus, our at-risk kids really wouldn’t be able to use it because they are not technology literate and they don’t have the technology at home to use it and figure it out. WHAT??? (This same teacher made the comment that PowerPoint is too difficult for kids to learn.)

Now, I’ll admit some bias towards this teacher. This person frustrates me on a daily basis, but I think that her comments really aren’t about the kids. Not many teachers think that the kids can’t handle the technology, but in truth it is the teachers fear of using the technology and having the kids know more than them. (A few days after this incident I had a conversation with this teacher and it came out that her lack of training was a big reason for her misgivings about using it.)

My answer to these teachers is let go, learn with the students. If we don’t show these students that learning even takes place as adults, why are we touting life-long learning. Plus, in the explosion of information in our world and at the rate that technology is changing, we have to come to together and learn. Why web 2.0 is all about collaboration and working together to create something better or to get a handle of something that is beyond the scope of one person (I’m thinking social bookmarking here).

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