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Not... Learning... Fast... Enough...


  11:19:32 am, by Nimble   , 721 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Internet

Not... Learning... Fast... Enough...

This article almost seems to me to be satire. Is it? Probably not.

Perhaps it's just the tone of the article that irks me. Well, it's definitely that:

But at the same time teachers are becoming more comfortable with using eMail, students have largely moved on to another, more sophisticated form of communication, the survey suggests: instant messaging (IM).

Sophisticated? Fun, maybe. It's a substitute for phones, and you wouldn't use phones in class, would you? Or would you?...

When asked what obstacles were standing in the way of students' tech use at school, the No. 1 response of students was institutional rules prohibiting cell-phone use, IM, eMail, or other forms of communication.

I'm sure there are administrations that go too far in this regard. That said, in a classroom setting, where attention is paramount, which of these technologies should you be using?

To anyone who remembers their student mentality, is there any educational use for e-mail, instant messaging or cell-phone use in the classroom? Would any fellow student you know be using text messaging for anything other than 21st-century note passing?

There are bandwagonistic movements as well that see these technologies as ends in themselves. Instant messaging: fashionable, therefore, how do we structure the rest of the teaching experience around it? Let us know how the pilot project goes :)

Karen Bruett, vice president of education for Dell Inc., agreed. "Kids use these tools at home every day. What we're telling them is that, when you come to school, you should stop communicating the way you do in your everyday life," she said.

Is this out of context? What on earth about school should be the same as in everyday life? Or being seated in a movie? Or on a plane? Do you smoke and play loud music in the hospital?

School class time is about paying attention and learning. I don't think that's particularly old-fashioned. Most communications electronica is simply a distraction from that.

e-mail sits closer to the border, because it has some useful classroom-related purposes, for giving reminders, sending assignments back, etc., and it's asynchronous, so the teacher, and for that matter the student, does not have to be there babysitting the computer.

Discussion boards are also very useful, especially if there is a public component to the information, which in a teaching setting is often. Otherwise, you would be answering the same question many times by e-mail, or sending the e-mails to everyone (rude). Using a discussion board is especially useful when students can help one another on simple points without the teacher getting involved. It's a lot like technical support forums in that regard.

The closest "instant messenger" model that has an educational possibility is that of IRC. If you have questions about Linux, for example, you can pop into the #linux channel and ask away. However, this model requires there to be a considerable number of people using the channel, since there's usually only a small fraction of the subscribers on at any one time.

My wife had one student who had a habit of text messaging and the like. Well, he was the worst offender, anyhow. Not only was he not doing anything educationally-related (and neither were the other students who were caught out), but he raised the ire of students sitting nearby him because he distracted them from what he was doing.

How much more noble would instant messaging be?

Instant messaging is that and only that: instant. If the other person is not online, it's nearly useless. ICQ was one of the only IMs I remember as actually having any true offline capability at all (you would get your "uh-oh" messages when you signed in), and MSN, from what I remember, if the other user was offline, it would offer... wait for it, wait for it... to send e-mail instead :)

The results are highly revealing for policy makers and education leaders as they consider how to use technology more effectively in their schools.

Perhaps the actual study is. I don't know. This article, however, is highly revealing of how awe-struck by inappropriate technology some people are.

If we want to do something truly revolutionary in electronics and learning, perhaps we could do something like put the Pimsleur Method into a Computer Aided Instruction format.


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