Friday, July 28, 2006

Technology In The Classroom

I recommend you read this blog entry from a Canadian math teacher. You'll need to read it to understand the rest of this entry, which is related to an issue I wrote about a few days ago. What follows is my comment to what was written about in the other teacher's blog. His insights are good, and I suggest you bookmark his site.

Be distinct or be extinct? I don't think so. What is the point of being distinct only for its own sake? Why be distinct if it does nothing to improve learning? True, one reason for the use of technology in education (like videos) is to motivate students, but a teacher should recognize that there is a point beyond which a teacher's use of technology is chasing after the students' fads. That makes us beggars, not teachers i.e. beyond a certain point, I'd be begging the students to pay attention to the course content.

Videos and other media are from the arts, and perhaps they are best used in the teaching of the arts. There is a place for them in the teaching of math and science, but let's face it, there will also ALWAYS be a more highly prioritized place for "chalk and talk" in math and science. Math and science rely on symbols and ideas which cannot always be best, nor easily, represented in other media.

I believe the question I ask is similar to yours: are the kids who are making videos learning the curriculum or are they learning how to make videos? Which is being stressed? I have experimented with the use of videos on my blog, and I'm thinking that with the tools that are FREELY available, the students would be concentrating on the technology and not the math. Video production has a steep learning curve. The experiments on my blog will attest to that.

However, I am not going to exclude the idea of using videos. When students can make tools, like videos, they are motivated, especially when they know the tools will be used by others. To ensure that the students concentrate on learning the math, I think I will develop other tools to make the production of videos much simpler. But that will take a lot of time.

Ahhhh, time. I have discovered in my first year of teaching that this profession is a balance between giving the time you want to give to the students and giving yourself time for having a life. :^)

I think I will post this comment on my blog. May I link to your blog?

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1 comment:

Barbara said...

Frank
I just read your blog and visited the link. The video's were awesome..but in reflecting on your concerns I think there is a middle ground. Technology is a natural tool for students now and it engages multiple learning styles. The most important aspect for me is that it moves us away from totally teacher directed lessons. At NECC in San Diego I spoke with a teacher from New Zeland who had taken very simple technology and done some grea things in Math. In essence he had taken a web cam with a built in microphone and mounted it on a small (12 inch high) metal boom. It was focused on a mini piece of whiteboard and both students and teacher used it to create step by step examples of problem solving which were then placed on the web for students to use anytime anywhere. It was so simple but sooo effective. Students teaching students...students producing for other students ... I beleive this always deepens learning.
This not to downplay the time crunch or learning curve but as someone else said we do not have to understand it all.. we just opoen the door and create options. it is also okay to start small and see where it leads.