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SCHOOL-IT  February 2004

SCHOOL-IT February 2004

Subject:

Re: Performance Assessment Tasks

From:

Doug Reaves <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Feb 2004 12:58:11 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (73 lines)

<snip>
>I would like to differ with Steve's opinion on this issue.  I think
>that if anything it's the adults putting the brakes on kids adoption
>and use of technology—not kids trying to be like adults. As someone who
>teaches both adults and kids how to use technology, I see daily
>evidence that the kids far exceed adults in their ability to use
>technology to get the information they need and to take charge of their
>own learning.

I disagree with the above :). Yes, kids are definitely less intimidated by
technology, thus more comfortable with electronic information gathering. But
I think that especially the internet poses a particularly troublesome issue
for younger learners, regarding information gathering, that the more
traditional methods don't have. Sorting, relating, and organizing large
amounts of information is difficult for anyone, but for elementary and
middle school students it can be an overwhelming task. My experience is that
they need a lot of adult guidance with this. As a teacher, I believe that I
have to be directly involved with them on this process, because it is only
something that a very sophisticated learner can do for themselves. Many of
you will cringe when you hear this, but I don't think younger learners can
take the required next step in acquiring sophisticated thinking and
analyzing skills, without a lot of help from adults. Setting them off on the
internet to find out about stuff will work only to a certain level.
Certainly it is helpful if they feel that they have some control over what
they are learning, but younger learners are quickly overwhelmed by too much
information. And that's assuming they can be kept out of chat, email, and
Janet Jackson pictures and focused on the task at hand.

<snip>
>I feel that kids embrace technology because it gives them
>a sense of autonomy over their lives and their learning. It allows them
>to communicate, to investigate, to examine—in most cases to do so in a
>realm that is completely foreign to their parents and teachers. We have
>not only a digital divide but a cultural divide in our schools because
>teachers and parents have no clue as to what a child's world is with
>regard to technology.

I agree that there is a technology divide between children and adults and
that kids realize this and often take advantage of it, but that is not an
argument for its effectiveness as a learning tool. Learning to manipulate
software is a much different task than learning to ask the right questions
or think deeply or analytically about a subject and then organize your
thoughts coherently so that others can uderstand them.

<snip>
>How many teachers have ever visited a chat room,
>written a blog, shared music with their friends, etc.? I don't know
>about your districts but in mine that would be an extremely small
>number.

Being comfortable in a chat room, writing a web page, or copying music is
not likely to make me more enlightened or a more critical thinker or a
better teacher.

<snip>
> Our schools' job is to ensure
>that our children have a balanced, well-rounded education that provides
>a variety of means for children to get the skills that they need to
>succeed in our society. I feel that technology as an integrated part of
>a curriculum is just another tool to help children explore their world.

Yes, but I have at least :) three fears about technology as a teaching tool.
1) It must be age appropriate, so that it doesn't curtail important
development or promote development that the child isn't ready for. 2) It
must be effective, which I suppose is another way of saying #1. and 3) It
must be affordable in the long run. I don't believe we have answered these
questions yet.


Doug Reaves
Bellows Free Acadmey
Fairfax, Vermont

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