Hi,

I'm not sure about the whole ghost of w2. There is an awful lot of rubbish out there - in here. I've been offered friendships by people who basically want me to further their web ratings, rather than, what I had hoped for a chance to share ideas about improving the education of my students.

Social networking can be great, I've learned a lot from forums, I've down loaded a lot of excellect free resources and I've had help solving problems.

But I fear if we are not careful we will focus on the medium and lose the message. The posting title is from
Marshall McLuhan who had a lot to say about the problems of mass media

Mud sometimes gives the illusion of depth.
The trouble with a cheap, specialized education is that you never stop paying for it.
The specialist is one who never makes small mistakes while moving toward the grand fallacy.

For teachers in the classroom lets focus on the students and how we can improve their education and only use the technology if it help in that task.

I hope this sparks some debate.

Best wishes
Paul Spencer

Tags: Education, Media, Technology, pedagogy

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While reading your reply I suddenly remembered this video entitled "What if" I'm hoping I can embed it but if not here's the URL to the page it appears on in various formats:
http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2006/09/what-if.html

The video is interesting, but I think it proves my point more than not. We have changed what we write with, but we are still writing. What are the two hot tech items right now? Tablet PCs and smart boards. Why? Because you can write with them, physically interact with them!

I wish the video had cited the quotes.
Thanks Susan, I enjoyed this.
Any one heard that they are doing away with lessons on hunting the Saber Toothed Tiger?
Best wishes
I guess I didn't make my point or question clear. I worry about skills we are losing we when quickly assimilate technology without looking at the consequences. Skills like memorization, common sense, problem solving, social relations, hard work, study skills. Just because technology makes things easier, is more motivating, it doesn't mean it is the best method to teach with. Teachers and educators have a sad history of jumping on fad-bandwagons without looking at the long term consequences. (no, I don't think technology is a fad)

Penmanship and glue were only examples I came up with. To respond though, I think Sylvia's statements about penmanship relating to writing is true, but I read it as an example of dumbing down curriculum, "Oh, it's too hard for you, just don't learn to do it." / "You didn't learn your math facts, well, here's a calculator." Teachers should teach penmanship and math facts so that students don't struggle with them, not give up teaching them! If technology helps students to learn these skills, great! If it is replacing the learning them, then not so great.

How many times have you been frustrated with a cashier who can’t make change. What would productivity look like if every time a construction worker measured something, he/she had to pull out a calculator? Do you only write five paragraph essays to your friends, or do you enjoy writing a meaningful heart felt message to them in a greeting card? (I hope they can read your writing!)

I do think it may harm society if kids don't know how to glue, because it is a reflection of a larger issue of students not being exposed to the arts, crafts, hands on activities.

All that said, I do believe the future of technology in education holds great promise to make outstanding changes in student achievement. Web 2.0 has brought us the auditory, visual, and the beginnings of social connecting. I believe web 3.0 will add the kinesthetic. New technologies like tablet pcs, touch screens, paper thin computer screens will do this. Until then, I believe we need to be very cautious that the Medium is NOT the Message.
This conversation may be best served by looking at who or what is in the drivers seat. Unfortunately, I see the technology driving the content. Teachers aren't driving these changes, the changes are driving us! I don't see these changes and educational reforms like the debate between whole language and phonics.

There are activities that I do in my classroom that could be done with paper/pencil, but I choose to do them within the context of technology because that is what is in demand in the 21st century. There are just certain skills kids will not need in the 21st Century. Basic math skills, writing skills, social skills? Yes, those won't change, but they will be nuanced by technology. I've always used Albert Einstein as an example. Heard a story, don't know if it's factual or not, that Einstein didn't know his own phone number. When asked why he said, "Why should I clutter my mind with something so meaningless as my phone number, when I know exactly where I can go to look it up if I need it?"

Here is my main issue: Do you think that the people living during the Industrial Revolution had any clue as to the potential outcomes of the I.R.? We are living IN the Information (digital) Revolution. Our world is changing, can we predict the potential outcomes of this Revolution on us? Our kids?

I'm open to changes in content, not whole-sale, but nuanced changes.
Interesting topic! Despite my opinion here, I also struggle with what changes need to be made. Let's be frank, what really is the message? Who knows, maybe the message is changing and we just don't know it yet?

Or, I really am a media lemming :-) That is highly possible too! I'm open to having my mind changed :-)
There is a lot of talk about e-learning but let's put it in context.
Could you get a man on the London Omnibus (Just for fun where does that come from?) to greate a lesson. Perhaps we've all got something to teach but teaching requires more that putting together learning activities.
Lets not forget teachers inspire, motivate, engage with learners as individuals not as units of consumption. I teach by listening, watching as much as by delivering content, I'm a fuzzy logical actor and no technology can replace me or most of my fellow teachers. We are the second oldest profession or is it first?

Best wishes.
Paul,
I think you were bang on when you mentioned about teachers being more "motivators", not focused on keeping our students consuming/eating but on keeping them engaged and passionate and questioning -- synthesized with, the content.

I think technology helps teachers in two ways. It does allow for more clear and complete content that is dynamic and motivating. further, it allows for the classroom to become less a box and more "in the world" , when students can access content wherever, whenever. This frees the teacher from many constraints and allows the teacher to focus on motivating the students to interact with the content and not just consume......

DD

PS> I think we are the second oldest profession although some might also put parenthood up there as a "profession"
Hi David,
Your points are well-taken, especially about our job with students: " keeping them engaged and passionate and questioning -- synthesized with, the content."
And the "less a box" descriptor for class--I feel this so much now. After 30 years of being an educator, I have found an utterly new habitat and view. Refreshing, open, freeing... I can truly work with individuals and their knowledge quests. I can focus on the learner, with all the world's resources at hand. Bliss.
Connie
hi Paul, I'd like to challenge you on the use of the word "technology" here - you are using it as a kind of shorthand for computer-based technology, perhaps, or digital communication, something like that, right?

but remember: writing is a technology, language itself is a technology.

we are ALWAYS using technology - Greek τεχνη, techne, "art, craft, skill" (Greek dictionary) - when we communicate, in the classroom, and out of it.

the idea of "not" using technology is a bit of a misnomer, which simply shows what technology we take for granted (so we don't think we are using technology... even though we are), and what technology seems new to us (e.g. the Internet).

I am always amused by professors at my school who talk about how "impersonal" online communication is... but how impersonal is it when I read a book written by a dead person who doesn't know me and cannot know me - and all I can know of that person is the words they left on a page...

so, that most tried and true academic technology - publishing - is about as impersonal as it gets! yet professors freely assign books to their students on the syllabus and don't worry about how impersonal a form of communication that is... of course we expect students to read printed books as part of their education! well, I think there is just as much an "of course" to the idea that they would use the Internet also.

the reason I like web2.0 is that it often manages to put you much closer in touch with the person behind the words you are reading, and allows your words to mingle with those words in something more like a conversation, even when it is taking place in written form.

:-)
From where I sit as a science teacher in public education I don't forsee the problem of k12 school districts putting the technology before the content. The districts in my area are far short of the ability to do so. A majority of teachers don't have LCD projectors or interactive whiteboards. Parents and school boards aren't asking why every teacher doesn't have a podcast or blog. I feel that most teachers see web pages, blogs, web 2.0 etc as extra work; not as a way to make learning engaging and differentiated. Also, as education professionals we are trained in the ability construct good lessons. Will I create a lesson just to have my class use google docs? No. Would I use an interactive whiteboard if I didn't think it would improve student acheivement or engagement? No. Most teachers that begin using specific technologies see direct links to future student achievement.
See direct links to student achievement through which view? The shortsighted, or the farsighted, the visionary? I guess I shouldn't ask. It sounds like you are saying teachers are more into the "sit and git" philosophy than the actual engagement for the kids in their own learning. Am I right? That may be the issue to address. How tight is your district on "accumulating a set pile of facts", the "old view"? Is there any way to move them off this tired old seat? What are they thinking?
Inquiry learning does not require technology. In my district most teachers use inquiry based lessons that are not "sit and git", but don't integrate technology. We are forced to kneel before the almighty state assessments and a certain level of fact accumulation is required. The idea I was attempting to convey is that there is not the general will or the resources to make technology lessons for technologies sake. The instructional technology pundits on this ning may feel they sometimes put tech before teach, but I feel most teachers in k12 schools won't experience the problem.

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