Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What's Holding You Back? Part 6

No Computer Lab Teacher

It would be great to have a computer lab teacher in each building.  This person would teach skills in context with projects being done in class, or would create other projects to highlight necessary computer and Internet skills.  There would be extra planning time available as a result, and kids would have a more consistent base of basic knowledge moving forward.  We could even be sure to teach the required Internet safety skills, so that all students got a consistent message about staying safe online and having good digital citizenship.

But, even if we had such a position in every building, it would still be the classroom teachers' job to model the appropriate use of technology tools in class.  It wouldn't give you a free pass to leave technology out of your classroom, lessons, and projects because the students were getting it somewhere else.  This is something we all need to be doing.  

Imagine this scenario:  a scientist discovers something that will benefit the entire human race-something huge.  This one discovery could benefit the world, making it possible to solve problems we never could before.  In fact, this one discovery would make lots of things possible that never were before.  But instead of sharing his discovery with anyone, he takes the discovery with him to the grave.  No one benefits.  What a tragedy! 

Here is a fact:  experts estimate that 97% of all human knowledge is available for free online.  We're talking all human knowledge; everything we've ever learned, everything our ancestors have ever learned, and it's safe to say anything we will learn in the near future will go directly to digital print and world-wide availability.  Plus, it is increasingly easy to find this information, and even to have it taught to you through free courses from the likes of Harvard and MIT.  F-R-E-E.  This is a huge event in human history.  Yet, the majority of classrooms operate as if digital tools don't exist, ignoring the possibilities and opportunities they provide.  This is also a tragedy.     

Pretending (or even behaving without the intention to pretend) that it hasn't happened, that nothing has changed, that it doesn't exist, is a mistake in much the same way as the fictional scientist scenario.  Just as the scientist has a moral obligation to share his discovery with the world, teachers have an obligation to show students how to leverage the power of modern technologies for lifelong learning.  

Anyone who says they want their students to be lifelong learners, but doesn't show them how to use modern tools to learn anything, any time, anywhere is not being honest with themselves.  

The Internet can be the very thing that helps you to reach your ultimate goal for students.  Why would you continue to teach as if it doesn't exist?   

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