Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why Students Should Use Technology

Australian teacher Jo McLeay steered me to some of her student’s blogs for commenting and a couple of these stood out for me. MurphyR and 711294 talk about using technology in the classroom.

MurphyR states, “study guides online, i dont think they are a good idea, students can get things wrong and alot of the time and this can mess up a students understanding of the book, whats wrong with discussing a book with the class? you still get the same benifits without the uncertainty of not know whether what you are typing is right or not.”

711294 states, “With a book for example, it would be hard to trust anything written by a bunch of year 10 students about a book they probably haven't even read, so why would we write a study guide about it? You would have to trust everything the writter says, where as when you learn by discussing it as a class you get more active and you get more out of the experience, by learning what other people have to say.” This person also states, "In my opinion, technology is fun but learning things from a qualified teacher may be better than from year 10 students online.”

I really commend this teacher for encouraging students to blog and I am also thrilled to see that students feel they can be honest about their feelings. I started to write a long comment on one of the blogs and decided that it would be so long that I would write my own blog post about this topic.

I think creating study guides encourage students to read carefully in order to put accurate information online. If you know that you might be called on something erroneous, you tend to put more effort and care in what you write and say. I think it is great to discuss a book in class but a study guide can help clarify points and focus ideas into a type of organization rather than a free for all discussion among a group.

711294 felt that trust was a hard thing to handle when you don’t know if the information is correct. What a great lesson to learn! This just doesn’t apply to study guides but also applies to newspapers, magazines, television, online material, and anything your read or see that may influence you in one way or another. You will face this all your life and need to know how to critically analyze what you see. Just because you discuss something in class, does that mean it is true?

Many times there will be students who have a stronger personality than others and sometimes they can dominate the conversation. Blogging and study guides may give others who are not so vocal an opportunity to share and contribute to the class. I was one of these students and felt like I had something important to share but never had an opportunity to share it. I would have loved to use technology if I had it in order to be heard. In this way, even the dominant students will hear what others say. Communication does not just involve talking, but also involves listening.

Learning from a qualified teacher is important but one of the ways this teacher may teach is by being a facilitator. Teachers do not always need to stand in front of the class and spit out facts and information in order to teach students. By actively participating in the learning, students will learn more and retain it longer than if they are passive learners.

These students’ posts also remind me that I need to make sure that students understand the relevance of what they are doing. One way to do this is to allow them to question why they are doing certain things and open the discussion for exploration.

I appreciate these students’ comments and hope that they see by doing this, not only are they helping themselves, their peers, but also other teachers like me. Technology opens the door for better communication. Without technology, I would never have been able to have this conversation with them since I live in South Carolina and they live in Australia. I would really have missed out so all I can say to them is thank goodness for technology in the classroom!


Anonymous said...

I agree. This fits very well with my teaching-learning mantra which is: TELL me and I may forget; SHOW me and I may remember; INVOLVE me and I will understand.

loonyhiker said...

Bill: I'm the type of learner that I have to actually do it to remember it. Thanks for reading!