Sunday, June 25, 2006

Technology Vision

Here are some links to blog articles that have really gotten me thinking about our concept of technology use in classrooms.

Technology for Its Own Sake - David Warlick's Two Cents

It's About Information, Not Technology - a blog from the Shanghai American School

Technology Phrases That Need to Go Away - John Pederson

In a different blog (that I couldn't find right now) David Warlick also talks about putting aside our thoughts that we can integrate technology into the curriculum and start thinking about integrating the curriculum into the technology.

Here's a quote from the blog article linked above.[the emphasis in the quote is my editing]
"They did not achieve a successful integration of e-mail into the teaching and learning process by teaching students to use e-mail. They achieved it by integrating a need for the communication that can best be achieved with electronic mail. The focus was on communication, on the information skills, not on the technology skills."

So...from that statement then it appears that he's saying that we need to identify the needs and then identify the best ways to achieve fulfilling those needs. Hmm...seems logical and simple, so I'll try this out.

• If we have the need to communicate, it can be best achieved through the use of email.

• If we have the need to organize ideas, it can be best achieved through the use of Inspiration or Kidspiration.

• If we have the need to locate information, in elementary classrooms it can be best achieved by using Yahooligans or Kidsclick but in middle and high school classes it can be best achieved by using Google or other more sophisticated search engines.

• If we have the need to take that information and reduce it down to its most important points or keywords, it can best be achieve if we copy and paste it into a word processor so that we can eliminate extraneous information and keep just the most important stuff. Simply and efficiently.

• If we have the need to improve writing skills then our students need to write. Improvement can be best achieved by giving students opportunities to use as many writing tools as possible and to write for as many different purposes as possible. Those needs can be best achieved through the use of tools like KidPix that, for our younger students, can combine the use of pictures with text. Or, if we want students to really understand communication, of which writing is a part, then we need to give them opportunities to write for response from others. This might be accomplished through the use of a blog.

•If we have the need to have students working collaboratively on projects, we can best achieve this if we provide them with a wiki which allows anytime, anywhere access to the information being consumed or produced by the group of students. This way, they're not confined to access to the school network or to a network shared folder. Wikis provide a collaborative environment where all of its users have a voice, the right to contribute and the right to edit.

•If we have the need to improve reading skills then we need to give our students opportunities to read on their own, listen to good models of reading, or read aloud to others. The best way to achieve this is to give students access to lots of reading materials that are appropriate for their skill level.(Teachers can access a variety of these leveled materials at Reading A-Z) Students can listen to good models of reading through the use of or any number of other online story sites. We can achieve reading aloud by giving students time to read to each other OR we could provide them with recording devices that allow them to play back their reading so that they can hear and get feedback/reflect on their performance. Your computer is actually a recording device given the right pieces of software to do so and many of these are open source and easy to use.

I could go on and on but just think about the simplicity of this one way of looking at bringing the curriculum into the technology. I'm continuing this little quest offline as I write this and have created a table in Word with two columns. One labeled "If" and the other labeled "Then". Because...IF I need to organize all my thoughts about this topic, THEN this can best be achieved if I create a two column table showing me those relationships. Gotta love technology! :)

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