Friday, March 16, 2012

Job Number One: Modeling Online Learning

The most important goal of every teacher today should be to successfully model how to use the Internet for learning, creating, collaborating, problem solving, and DOING rather than merely using it for entertainment.

Why?  Because the Internet is both the keeper of all things known to man as well as the keeper of all the evil distractions.  A person can learn anything online, or they could spend the rest of their life watching YouTube videos and playing Words with Friends on FaceBook.  As of right now, we aren't using technology enough in our learning environments to teach students anything about its most powerful abilities.  Most teachers, for whatever reason, refuse to embrace its use or modify their lessons to leverage its power.  They won't take the time needed to learn what is necessary to teach kids how to use what could be the most powerful human invention ever for good rather than evil.  OK, entertaining yourself into a drooling mass of meat isn't exactly evil, but it's a far cry from using the Internet to its potential.

Here is an excerpt from Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin:
Just as online shopping scaled, an inexorable rise due to the efficiencies of the connections created by the net, so will the digital delivery of information permeate every nook and cranny of what we learn.

What we can't do, though, is digitize passion.  We can't force the student to want to poke around and discover new insights online.  We can't merely say, "here," and presume the students will do the hard (and scary) work of getting over the hump and conquering their fears.

We (educators) have to model that passion.  We have to be the bridge between the world of knowledge available online and the method of its delivery, since teachers' time as THE method of delivery is over.  Our desire to entertain ourselves may outweigh our desire for knowledge unless someone shows us the way to love learning digitally.

Who is going to do that?  Certainly not the teacher who finds every excuse NOT to use technology.  Definitely not the teacher who says they don't have time to learn how to leverage the Internet's capabilities in their classroom.  What's scary is that the vast majority of teachers I've met fit into those two categories, despite what they may say about the importance of using technology or how much they say they want to use it.

If you are one of the teachers who says they don't have time:  make time.  How did you have time to learn anything you know today?  Didn't it take time?  It's a matter of priority, and I don't want to wait until an entire generation of Internet users care only about their high score to decide to do something about it.


  1. So, you can't find the time? Have that project based learning activity planned but forgot to implement it? Well, I have found that if I use the day tab on my iCalendar I can schedule in the technology / tech. projects that I want to utilize/facilitate for that day and time. (Since it schedules events by the hour) This helps to keep me on track by sending me reminders of what is coming up that week, which day and even what time of the day. This helps to integrate technology into the day until it becomes a natural piece of the day.

  2. I agree with JoRae, I think if you can buckle down one planning period and carve out time to integrate technology, the rest will be easy. I really do think the toughest part is planning for it. When I was teaching, I had what I called my "Hit List" taped to my desk. After planning for the next week, I scanned my hit list to make sure I integrated everything I wanted- cooperative learning, quantum strategies, VAK, technology....also, don't think you have to be perfect right away, set goals for yourself- this month I will integrate technology into 10 lessons, next month I'll make it 20....and lastly, if you are someone who doesn't know how to use a certain technology, learn along with your students! Or have Andy come and teach the class and you learn along with the students.