Thursday, November 26, 2009

No computers / not enough computers / We don't need computers in our classroom.

Problem: No computers / not enough computers / We don't need computers in our classroom.

The third of those is the one that's not like the other. I shake my smirk at you. We'll address it in turn.

Remember when I asked you to take a moment to consider what textbooks cost in terms of money? Laptops and desktops are dropping in price and getting very close if not cheaper than a textbook. Take a look at a notebook computer at retail price (try Walmart/Sams). You think you can't get those for cheaper at wholesale bulk pricing?

If you have no computers in the classroom... give me a name and number and I'll make a call. And DO!, use this as motivation to get out there and tell your administrator you need computers. Then do some homework on the costs and where you might find grants (or not in that order if you are intimidated by the pertinent person.)

If you have a computer in the classroom then you can always group students together and make sure that they not only take turns typing in search terms, but that they also all grab sources individually. Collaboration when it comes to computer skills is NOT AT ALL a bad thing. It doesn't even cheapen the experience. Engaged as the skill is modeled is a met objective in this case.

Why is typing in searching terms important? Who finds more and better information faster? Someone who knows how to advanced search? Or someone who knows alphebetical order? The second person - by the way - has to also be near a library and needing the information while the library is open. How far behind are those that don't know how to Google? And riddle me this: What's the driving force in learning/processing? ANSWER: It's feedback. QUESTIONS: Doesn't feedback often lead to more questions? And if it leads to more questions, then: How much more important is it to have feedback quickly? Especially in these times when, who has the time / concentration to keep up with all your questions? Technology and the innerwebs provide Instant Feedback, and drives learnng. Not just for the big questions, but for the tiny things you just want to find out more about. And doesn't that, in turn, fuel and drive a love of learning? And isn't that the greatest gift you could give your students?

But really, why care? Why be so passionate? What is at stake here? Our students are going in to college or into the workforce where computer skills are a must to be successful. Even those in technical trades could greatly improve their socio-economic impact by knowing how to use the internet to market themselves at low to no cost, how to get the most up to date info in their trade, and how to problem solve more quickly. Even the skill of networking, keeping up contacts, findingg subject matter experts, man the list goes on and on. AND: Once a person understands alphabetical order, there is no higher order skill in searching through a book to research. So what is the point of forcing that when they've got the skill if they needed it? How applicable is it to their lives and does it impact them at all? It's practically a dead practice. SO HERE'S A WHOLE 'NOTHER BLOG: How much would you have learned in American History if the teacher refused to speak English and would only speak Latin?

Here's a big point I'll steal from my wife: Not all students have the opportunity of technology and internet access at home, and they will never get it unless you do something about it. If you are in a rural area, it's even more important you provide them that opportunity. This is the actual POINT of public education.

Challenge your students at every turn. And make that impact you already make even larger.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me have it...

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