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Our changing world

November 15, 2007

This started out as a blog about an recent post by Jeff Utecht, but after reading this post from Alternative Teen Services, I see these go a little hand in hand with the problems I was having on Monday with convincing one of my teachers to use Diigo in their research process. Carleen at Alternative Teen Services writes:

It makes me twitch to think about all the issues teens have to deal with these days but the one that leaves me most anxious, the one that makes me gnaw on my hang nails and yank at my tangled hair in the morning, is the depressing situation in the Middle East. The past few years has revealed a lot of dishonesty in our government. I’m not here to argue over those issues. I’m here to try and put myself in the shoes of a sixteen year old and imagine what it must feel like to be at the edge of my childhood in a world where you seemingly can’t trust anyone, or look to anyone for honest leadership. All the facts and the falseness, all the broken promises, I wonder, how do they make sense of it all? How does it effect them? Do they even care?

Of course they do. They may not keep up with the news in the traditional way but they do keep up and they do care. (Veterns Day=Random Rantings)

Our world is changing and our students are not locked into following the same methods that we have used, ie “the traditional way”. They have options and new tools to help keep track of the news, help them learn about topics, help them research and keep track of what they learn, to help them demonstrate what they have learned, and overall interact with the world. Not just the world in their immediate vacinity or where they can physically travel to, but THE WHOLE WORLD. The tools that we use to operate on a day to day basis are different than what our students need to operate with or what they will be operating with in the future. My son is a classic example. He’s been having problems organizing his homework and thus getting it done. I handed him my old Palm m105 and now, it’s no problem. Is the technology that engages or is that it is simplier? Does it make sense to him to put it on pen and paper when a Palm can do the same thing in a more unique and intriguing manner? Does it matter how he stays organized or that he does in a manner that allows him to be successful? Jeff Utecht in a recent post talked about this the idea in reaction as to why use technology in the classroom:

Why? Because it’s their language! Educators who say they understand students and do not understand why you would/should use technology resources in the classroom really don’t get it. Technology in many different forms engages students today. It is how they want to learn, it is their language, and by allowing them to use technology we actually engage them in the learning process. We allow them to use their tools to learn. (Technology=Engaged Learners)

My son is now more interested in being organized because he has a Palm rather than the paper planner the school gave him. You know what, it has motivated him to stay on top of his assignments. He loves to be able to have the technology and if that is one less barrier for him to learn that skill than I am all for it. The idea is to teach them the skills they will need and give them a variety of methods and let them decide for themselves what works and what does not. If technology engages them enough to learn the skill, then why not use it. But this needs to be taken one step further. Technology should not be used merely because it engages. We have to face the fact that they need to learn how to operate, manipulate, and create using technology because if they don’t they will be behind and at a huge disadvantage in society.

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