Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?
In the post "Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?" by Scott McLeod, you'll find a very witty poem where Dr. McLeod lists things children shouldn't be learning to do on the internet, like Twitter, blogging, making videos, etc. Throughout the poem he holds to the idea that children should have no part of the internet and that it has no good use; only bad comes from using the internet. However, he surprises you. At the end, he says "too bad, I'm already doing it" and even challenges those who actually agree with keeping children from the internet to wait and see who will have "a leg up" in the years to come.
My response to this poem? At first it was disgust. I hadn't realized Dr. McLeod was being sarcastic until I'd read the poem in its entirety. It was hard to comprehend that he would think that children shouldn't use the internet at all. Of course, after reading the ending, I quickly became pleased with Dr. McLeod. Besides taking the ideas and arguments many people might have and delivering them in a short, simple, and entertaining way, he's also addressed the major reason why children should use technology and the internet. If you have two people competing for a job that uses technology some (what job these days doesn't?), who do you think is going to get the job? The guy who barely knows how to use a mouse, or the guy who can access things on the internet and make presentations on the computer? Exactly, it'll be the second guy. He'd be more useful (as harsh as that might sound). Now, who exactly is this Dr. McLeod I'm praising? Well, according to the biography on his page, he is Associate Professor in the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University and also director of UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education. Along with that, he is said to be "one of the nation's leading academic experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues." I think he knows what he's talking about.
The iSchool Initiative
This video is a wonderful example of what people can think of using technology these days. This high school senior promotes the idea of using iPod touches in schools to help improve the school system. He says using them would increase teacher-student communication and teacher-parent communication. It would also place assignments, due dates, grades, and school events all in one, easy to access place. The iPod touch also allows students to get rid of the pen/pencil and paper method of taking notes, because it has a notes application already on it, not to mention it has a scientific calculator. Not enough? Well, think about all the applications that a student can find and use. A few mentioned in the video were iHomework, which is an application that allows students to keep track of assignments, Formulae, which has mathematical formulas, and even WorldWiki, which is a map application. Obviously these are only a few applications at a students disposal. And for those of you who are thinking it's too expensive, no, not really. The video has an estimate of how much a student spends on books, paper, backpacks, etc. and it came to a lovely total of about $600. The total for the iPod touch? About $150. Plus, for those of you who are environmentally friendly (or at least try to be), using the iPod saves students from using and wasting paper.
I personally think that this senior is on the right track. This is a great way to incorporate technology into schools. I actually have an iPhone and love it. It's useful for keeping up with dates and assignments and for taking random notes when paper isn't handy. I'm also glad to see that he is traveling and trying to introduce the iSchool Intiative into schools. We need more people who think like him to help incorporate more technology into the school systems.
Unfortunately, it seems that work is starting to become more important than family. I think that is partly because of the rising need, the rising want to be able to live comfortably and to be able to live without the stress of knowing whether there will be food on the table or not. People want to be able to take a trip here and there to relax and spend time with their family, but to get to that point, they need money and you only get it by busting your butt at work. Believe me, I know. My mom does just that, though she doesn't put her work ahead of her family. She never has, and never will. In fact, she's always put me in front of her work and herself. I know there have been times when money is tight and we didn't really have enough to buy many groceries. I also know that there have been times that she has gone without dinner just so I can eat. Even so, she never let work take control of her.
And it's frightening to think about today's divorce rate. My parents are divorced. My parent's parents are divorced. My step mom's parents are divorced. It seems that money is to blame here too. There are so many people out there who are marrying simply for money, though there are some who are just blinded by what they think is love and marry someone completely wrong. I think this world is slowly tearing apart at the seams, and like the video said, we have to do something about it.
Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
Watching this video was amazing. To think that these people had never met, had never practiced together, and yet they made such a beautiful video. Not to mention, that Eric Whitacre thought of doing this is amazing. It was absolutely gorgeous and yet another amazing example of what technology can do for the world. So many people see it as a bad thing because it's a place where their children can access things like porn so easily, but do they realize just how good it can be? It allows people all over the world to come together and communicate. It allows people to share ideas on everything from education, music, and love to whether they think blue is a pretty color. It's just a matter of finding the good and keeping away from the bad.
Teaching in the 21st Century
What does "to teach" mean for the 21st century? It certainly doesn't mean plopping a dusty, ragged book in front of students and telling them to read it then spit back the information on a test. Nor does it mean forcing them to memorize a bunch of facts that they think useless. It means showing them ways to find good information from reliable sources, showing them ways to organize information, showing them ways to present information, showing them ways that make them -want- to learn.
This video is an eye-opener. It makes you really think just what it means to teach and what you need to use in order to help students learn. So, why plop that dusty, ragged book in front of them when they can find the information in more fun, more interesting ways? You can't sit there and wonder why so many students are in trouble for using cell phones, iPods, etc. during class when the methods being used are outdated and boring. The video says teachers need to keep up with the times and "engage" their students, not just entertain them. Yes, make lessons fun, but make them to where they have an impact on the students' minds.