For this week’s blog, I am going touch on a few topics, and include some interesting links. So bear with, or excuse, my rambling.
First off is revisiting the Kaiser report. The results of this study (and others like it) bring different reactions. Some say since kids use digital technology so much we should not use it in schools; that it can get in the way of learning. Others say we have to use it to stay relevant, that it is what the digital natives’use so just use it. Both arguments have valid points and we need to consider both views and not dismiss them out of hand. When checking various blogs I subscribe to, I came across one by U of Michigan Professor, Yong Zhao (he is the author of a recent ASCD book, Catching up or leading the way). His post can be found here, it is an interesting read. I listened to an interview with him some time back (a podcast on Alan November’s site). One thing he said stood out, something to the effect that if a teacher could be replaced by technology, then he/she should be. Basically he stated that there are things computers can do better than teachers (like provide information, animations, etc) and those who fear that their roles as teachers could be taken over by computers are partly correct. On the other hand, the real role as teachers as model, guide, facilitator, etc cannot be taken over by a computer. I think that a lot of these discussions can be brought back to one idea – balance. We need to have balance in our lives and also in schooling. Not all activities need technology to be effective; in fact in some cases the technology can get in the way. For others, technology can enhance the experience, and the learning. Another interesting blog I came across was entitled “The myth of the digital native”, in it the author writes: “her research indicates a very strong correlation between the teacher's use of the technology in lessons, and the kids' use of technology outside of school. It is essential for the teacher to model not only how to use the technology, but how to learn effectively”. I guess I am saying that a teacher should use the technique or strategy that works best for the given purpose, to meet the goal. For example, look how our blogs have allowed so much discussion, sharing and thinking/learning.
If you want more data, try the PEW Research Center - lots of interesting data & commentary. Also of interest in relation to the above is ISTE’s Top 10 Educational Technology Priorities for 2010.
Finally, the big event of last week was the announcement of the iPad by Apple. What do you think? The hype certainly worked up a frenzy of interest. While the device has many shortcomings – no flash support, no camera, no multi-tasking… I think it may still be the start of a new focus in computing devices. Despite these shortcomings, I still want one, although I may wait for the next upgrade. Whether you were impressed or not, this blog, written about the iPad release, is very interesting.