Monday, December 14, 2009

Digital Learners

I've posted information on the "Did You Know" series of videos created by Dr. Karl Fisch, Dr. Scott McCleod and others. There are several similar creations that live on the web. While we can certainly debate the statistics that are presented and the issues they raise, I believe they all serve a similar purpose. They make us think - something we all need to do more of.

The most recent thought provoking presentation that was brought to my attention is a video by B.J. Nesbitt. While it is a couple years old already and borrows heavily on the "Did You Know" vids as well as one by Michael Wesch, (they are credited) it certainly makes us think. How do students in our classrooms today learn? Is it any different than 20, 50 or 100 years ago? What does it mean to be a digital learner and do we teach them differently? As parents, (for those of you who are) how do you want your children to learn?

There has been criticism of this video for using kids to promote an adult agenda. I can see how some would think that way, but I also think it can be looked at as giving a voice to students. As I said before, that is debatable, as are the statistics. However, if we focus on those things and even turn it into a political debate, we forget to think about the real issue - which is finding better ways to reach and teach our children.

Here is the video for those who are not in a school building that blocks YouTube...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why wouldn't I want my child to have one...

Do you know how many times in the last two weeks I've said, "I should write that down and put it on the blog?" Too many to count. With the annual TIES conference upon us (for those not from Minnesota, it is the largest education technology conference in our part of the "states") it is high time I get going again! We'll shoot for once a week the rest of this month and then, hopefully more in 2010. I blogged about this once before, but here is a slightly different twist on the subject...

I will be presenting a session at the conference on the iPod Touch in the K-12 classroom from the perspective of a teacher and a parent. As my oldest son has entered into his teenage years, I've started to think more about this issue of digital learners. He is as engaged in the digital world as his parents will allow! He plays a few online games, is quite adept at accessing information and creates digital movies. He does not have a cell phone (he would have us believe he is the only one in 8th grade without one) but he does have an iPod Nano. I see what he and his friends do on a daily basis with the digital tools at their disposal and I can't help but start thinking about how useful these tools could be in the classroom.

Take the iPod touch, for example, and the over 100,000 apps available. It is no wonder that classrooms around the country are experimenting with it as a learning tool. With the proper apps (many of which are free) it is a graphing and scientific calculator, an e-book reader, a classroom response device, a video player, a podcast player and a web browser among many, many other things. So, as a parent... I ask the question, why wouldn't I want my child to have these tools available to him? That question brings up many more... Why doesn't the school allow my child to use this in class? Why doesn't the school technology department allow the device to connect to the school network - ever? When will education embrace the technology that is commonplace outside of the schools inside the schools? I'm sure I'm not the only parent wondering about these questions - or am I?

I'm curious what you think - please discuss.