Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Defines Tech Savvy?

The new school year has just started and I had high hopes of a very technology ready class. I have web-based applications bookmarked on delicious ready to go. So I asked all 127 of my kids the same questions.

Of 127 kids, 5 had their own start page where they control the content.
Of 127 kids, 3 had heard of RSS feeds or readers and none knew what either was.
Of 127 kids, 56 of them looked at me like I was speaking gibberish when I suggested that they secure a thumb drive.
Of 127 kids, 5 had heard of delicious but 2 thought that it referred to food.

Is this what we are calling tech savvy? Is this the group that is termed "Digital Natives"? So they can use a plug in template like facebook or myspace. How useful is that? How do we bridge that gap between social networks and the real utility of the information super highway?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tech overload?

I was speaking to a friend the other day and she had just returned from a trip. She was complaining that her GPS battery ran out and she got lost. I asked her if she had a map. She stated that she did but that she had forgotten how to read it.

Ask a middle school student to multiply 15 X 18 and the first question you are likely to hear is "Can I use a calculator?"

Take them to the library and assign a research question and you will hear "Why can't I just Google it?"

My point is this...is technology eroding needed skills or is technology replacing needed skills? I concede that memorizing the counties of Maryland or memorizing state capitals is likely no longer a needed skill, however, technology is now replacing our need to do basic math, to spell and to use proper grammar. Not to mention basic research.

Is this a good thing? Is it a good thing to have basic skills mechanized? I am curious to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wonderworks water...fall up or down?

Last week we visited Pigeon Forge TN and the Smoky Mountains. While there, we visited a place called Wonderworks. It is billed as a museum for the mind. Check out the video! See if you can figure out what in the world is happening. I know that it took me a while...

Kids and the Blogosphere

I have a blog, which you know if you are reading this. My 8 year old wants a blog. My wife says, "What's a blog?"

But blogging has issues in my mind.

Issue 1. Why blog? In the professional world it has the purpose of replacing the company bulletin board and constant access. Blogs are used personally to vent, share information or simply to create a community of like-minded individuals. In education, is blogging fair to those with limited or no computer access?

Issue 2. Technology for technology's sake. If a child cannot type, is a blog going to help or hurt that student? Is a blog going to really spark creativity in a child who cannot type? There is a fine line here between using the technology for a purpose and just using technology.

Issue 3. Access and monitoring. When blogs are used in schools, the whole monitoring thing comes up. Who will monitor the blog? How will we be assured that the rules of decorum are followed? More responsibility for the already overworked teacher?

Issue 4. Research. Kids and adults alike need to understand that blogs are largely opinions and should be treated as such. Information included in them should not be taken as the gospel truth unless they are backed up with an additional source.

I do not claim to have the answers, I am just posing the questions! Yours are welcome as well.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Education 2.0

Look out world! Web 3.0 is coming!

Web 3.0? Whoa!

There are those who read this who may say what happened to Web 2.0? Well, nothing happened to it, it is here! Kids are using it to communicate and network; and yes even to do homework. From facebook to myspace, kids are more wired than ever. What about us? Where are we?

I am not sure where you are, but teachers need to get into web 2.0 as they are what kids are using. We have the advantage of teachertube for videos, scriblink for whiteboards, Jing for screencasting, and sites for podcasting. How many adults cannot even create an e-mail attachment or open one? It is time all, no past time; to get on board. The Web 2.0 world is growing fast. Either we get on board the train or the kids will leave us behind.