Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of very part of your life.” Brian Davis
Life is like riding a bicycle: you don’t fall of unless you stop pedaling.” Claude Pepper
The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.” Sloan Wilson
The use of internet technologies in the classroom is like riding a bike: 1- Using them well takes commitment and work. 2- Technological integration requires constant “peddling;” a teacher must scaffold and manage the use of technology to ensure its done well. 3- Children can benefit immensely from the use of the internet in the classroom when they are well supported, but have the freedom to be creative, explore, and collaborate online.
As a Biology teacher, for many years, I viewed the integration of technological applications such as webquests, online research, multimedia presentations, and class management using web pages as unnecessary, but beneficial. All of these activities augmented lessons, giving them an x-factor, curb-appeal, or icing on a good cake. I have just begun to understand how naive I was. I was missing two very crucial understandings that limited my ability to utilize the technology that was available to me, to its utmost potential. The first, was that I was stuck in a teacher-centered approach to tech use, versus putting the task on the students shoulders and giving them the freedom to complete it. (Ironically, as a science teacher, inquiry-based lessons were a normal part of my lab structures, but I was not experienced enough to create online lessons that were problem-based, or collaborative) I was essentially using the internet as icing, when it could have been the cake. I needed to get the students involved and actively working, creating, evaluating, and collaborating online. This is the way that online technology can open doors in a classroom and transform learning experiences. The second misconception that inhibited my ability to more effectively integrate technology into my lessons was that I assumed my sole duty was to teach the science standards. I was not even aware that the Technological Literacy Standards or National Educational Technology Standards existed! I now realize that it is every teachers job to integrate and teach technological litereacy. We are living in a “flat world” and according to Thomas L. Friedman it is our duty to teach our students “the right stuff” As he defines it the right stuff has 4 components: 1- Ability to learn how to learn. 2- CQ + PQ > IQ (creativity + passion > intellignece) 3- Ability to Play well with others. 4- The Right Brain Stuff – “artistry, empathy, seeing the big picture.” (Friedman 2007) In a world where most individuals will change jobs over 10 times before the age of 40, it is not just factual knowledge that we must teach, its technological skills, creative talents, and the ability to collaborate and self-teach. I believe it is the duty of all teachers to teach technological literacy, and in effect teach the right stuff.
Interestingly, my development as a teacher of technology, has mirrored that of my history as a bike rider. Lets just say, it took me a while to get the hang of the two-wheel thing… but I kept trying and now I’m decent (seriously, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 9). I was misguided at first, as a user of technology, but I’m getting it. I’d like to think that I’m on the verge of making some very powerful changes to the way I teach in regards to the integration of online lessons into the curriculum I teach. More than just adding stuff, I am reorganizing and revamping. As Michelle Davis describes, “While teachers are feeling more and more confident with the technology they have, they’re layering it on top of what they’re already doing, not doing things in new ways.” (M. Davis 2008 Edweek) I have layered upon layered extra “stuff” into my cirriculum, but the fact is, as they say, “less is more.” I plan to cut and paste this year. The initial jump into the realm of the tech-integrated class is daunting because, in a standards-based system, most teachers feel they already have too much to cover. In addition to problems with computer availability and connectivity (what I believe is the greatest hurdle to tech integration) teachers must figure out a way to make room for in depth lessons that involve the embedded ongoing use of technology. This is not any easy task for even the most tech savvy teachers, but to this we are charged.
For me, the web 2.0 revolution began last year. I dabbled in podcasting, blogging, and video conferencing, but was only moderately successful. Though most of my students were very excited about the activities, my skill level, and in effect, confidence level, was limited. Therefor, I did not scaffold or manage the activities as well as I could have. Experience with a particular technology, website, or application greatly affects a teachers ability to efficiently manage it and stay organized. I think I bit off a bit more than I could chew. I also did not thoroughly integrate any of the applications listed above. For that reason, the students did not get a chance to become proficient in any of the online applications we used.
This year I’ve done some revisiting, cutting, and pasting. I have benefited immensely from this class – EDUC632; the exposure to various applications like voicethread, scribble, jing, and windows movieo maker was cool. Also the informative activities on LoTi, CIPA + COPA and the issues of internet safety, and the need to teach students how to search and critically evaluate resources online was eye-opening. Tops on my list of applications and tech lessons to be implemented are a WikiPage for projects and daily class summaries, Live Blogging in class, the use of smart web searching tools and bookmarking sites, in addition to the multimedia tools such as windows movie maker, photostory, gcast, ect. I also think that lessons to develop awareness of online information quality, ethical use and safety online, and information ownership (CIPA and COPA) are important. Honestly, some of these topics I will merely discuss in an attempt to develop some awareness, but now that I have a better understandind of these issues I can weave questions and examples into my lessons that will raise awarness of them.
The key change that I need to make is to not just use the technology, but as was discussed above, develop lessons that get students creating and collaborating with it. According to Vicki Davis, “research-based think-pair-share and post lesson summarization are employed effectively whether you use paper, oral discussion, or online collaborative learning tools such as the wiki. The basic methodology (and result) is the same although the medium is different.” (V. Davis 2006) It is combination of student-centered lesson structures and the use of online applications that enables a teacher hit both content standards and tech-literacy standards simultaneously. The LoTi scale is a useful tool for teachers because the upper levels of the scale are indicative more of collaborative, creative, and affective lessons, not just the use of technology.
This year I hope to start peddling fast, but I am prepared to keep peddling and finish the race. Ideally, at the end of the race – I won’t be the one on the bike!
“Children’s Internet Protection Act.” Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Burea. 20 Jul 2008 <http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/cipa.html>.
Davis, Michelle. “NEA, AFT Report Outlines Ed-Tech Problems.” Education Week June 25, 2008 <http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2008/06/25/01report_web.h02.html?qs=nea%20aft%20survey>.
Davis, Vicki. “Wiki Collaboration Across the Curriculum.” K-12 Online Conference Blog October 23, 2006 19 Jul 2008 <http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=38>.
Friedman, Thomas. The World is Flat. 2nd. Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication , 2005.