"Our students have changed radically. Today's students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach."
Mr. Prensky's quote is 13 years old, and while I do believe education has come a long way in embracing technology in the classroom, I agree with Mr. Sheninger's statement that "the learning styles of the active, digital learner conflict with traditional teaching styles and preferences." Additionally, since students have easy, and immediate, access to information they are "constructing meaning through the use of technology in ways that are relevant, meaningful, and fun" to them - and often times without the guidance of educators.
So, as I prepare for my conference, I am taking the stand of modeling how I would use the tools I'm going to present in the classroom - not just demonstrating the tools. I'm even planning to give some time for my fellow colleagues to think through how they would use the various tools in their own classrooms. Because when it comes down to it, I think ALL educators would be willing to incorporate technology in their classroom if they had time to properly plan for relevant execution. Using technology just to use it does not equal a successful lesson.
I think Mr. Sheninger sums up our current state of technology in education perfectly in that "it is important to understand that, even though today's active learners have grown up with technology, it does not always follow that they know how to use it effectively for learning. This is the responsibility of schools. We are tasked with preparing students for success in a world that is becoming more dependent on technology, a world that is also in need of a workforce that can think critically, solve real-world problems, and function entrepreneurially."
Our students may know how to post a picture to Instgram and can Snapchat like a boss, but do they really understand that the photo is permanent on the internet or what it means to have a Snapchat conversation screenshot? Do they realize they can create a collaboration board using Mural.ly to plan for an upcoming group presentation? Or that ThingLink will allow them to take a static photo and make it interactive by linking videos, websites, pictures and more to it? Or how about creating a quick and easy video to demonstrate the knowledge they learned on a recent science experiment? Many students think they know technology, but they only know what they have been exposed too, and not the vast array of amazing tools available to them.
Technology isn't hard, but it does have a learning curve and risks need to be taken. I recently set up my 2nd grader with a summer reading log using Google Forms in order to track the books he is reading during break. How great would that kind of data be to use in the classroom, especially to show growth and development in reading? It took me mere minutes to create, and my son is responsible for completing the log - not me.
I am lucky that I have a true passion for technology, and I love sharing that passion with my students and peers. In preparing for my conference, I've made a decision to share my passion with this blog. I hope to introduce a new tool a week and give ideas on how to use it in the classroom. Many times I hear teachers say they learned many new, exciting, cool websites to use, but they do not have the time to implement them successfully in the classroom, so they go unused. Hopefully with some idea generators, more educators will incorporate technology into the classroom effectively.
In the meantime, check out my website, heichelbechwebtools.weebly.com where I categorize various web tools, as well as describe them and rank them on ease of use. Maybe it will spark you to recreate a lesson over summer break!
Until next time...