Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Education Malpractice

In addressing the reservations that many teachers still have about bringing technology into the classroom, Howland & Levin (2009) don't mince words. They argue that to continue to debate the issue of whether or not we should be embracing technology in education without "devoting substantive energy and attention to the development of appropriate digital practices for teaching and learning is to indulge a combination of nostalgia and intransigence tantamount to malpractice" (p. 88).

With a whole array of powerful technology available to our students and a growing pile of scientific evidence showing that it can facilitate higher-level thinking, motivate reluctant learners, support struggling learners, help create student-centered learning rather than teacher-centered teaching, and empower students to succeed in the digital age, the time for debate is over.

Lowther, Inan, Strahl, & Ross (2008) cite a report from the US Department of Commerce which revealed that education is the "least technology-intensive enterprise among 55 US industry sectors" (p. 196). How can we prepare students for a twenty-first century work world in a classroom that is mired in the early twentieth century? The answer is that we can't, we aren't, and industry continues to complain about an unprepared workforce being pumped out of our high schools and universities.

The time for debate is over. The kids are using technology whether we like it or not. The only question now is, will we teach them how to use it constructively or continue to let them use it only in inane and destructive ways?

To see my latest Web 2.0 adventure, check out my class blog in which we discussed themes from To Kill a Mockingbird here.


Anonymous said...


Great work on To Kill a Mockingbird.

I am wondering if anyone has ever tried providing some example comments in the synchronous blogs?

For example, on the question about failure, what would happen if you posted two responses before the synchronous session, one which advocated for allowing everyone to pass and another for competition.

I wonder if you would get more detailed responses if there was a more in depth response which brings up different aspects of the question.

I know that in other blogs I read it is often the detailed, controversial responses which create the most activity and thought.

Tommy Buteau

Jason Clarke said...

I like the idea of posting sample comments, the only concern I've had about it is that it can intimidate students to see a really well-articulated post right off the top and they feel that the teacher has posted the "final word" rather than feeling that they can explore and say whatever they want to.

One thing I have done several times is to enter the conversation anonymously. Because they are all using pseudonyms they don't notice if I post an idea to redirect them or to get them thinking about an alternative perspective and then it flows more naturally into the conversation.

I don't do this every time, but when I see the need I will make up a pseudonym and post something. I did this on "To Kill a Mockingbird 3" this time and it worked pretty well. I had several students responding to my post and it helped to refocus and redirect the conversation a bit.

I also spend a lot of time the day before we blog talking about the qualities of a good post, sharing the rubric and showing them sample blogs from previous classes. That is a huge help too.