I teach a course on educational technology at Colorado State University within the teacher licensure program. We are eight weeks into the semester and it has been a very interesting ride so far. I must admit that I entered the class somewhat naively, thinking that my students, being “digital aboriginals” would embrace technology, embrace a more collaborative approach to teaching, how wrong I was…

Here are some of my reflections so far…

Entering the class I believed that “digital aboriginals” were students that were creating their own connections and building knowledge, but what I find is that the majority of my students are “digital facebook users” connecting to friends for social engagement. When I created a Ning site for the class they were more than capable of building a profile but getting them to engage in a community (either in Ning or in class) to build knowledge collectively has been a challenge.

I have spent many hours reflecting on how pervasive our current education system is and how difficult it will be to change the course of that system. I love Sir Ken Robinson’s TED presentation; he talked about how our education system models the university, placing university professors, many that don’t work well with others, at the top. This model runs all the way through our education system, as teachers leave their university preparation programs and model “expert” behavior, they act as experts of their classrooms. And why not, for the last 16 years they have been rewarded by a system that is built on “experts” and their existence and sense of self is based on these rewards.

Obviously, the importance placed on standardized testing only fuels this system. Students are rewarded for obtaining the correct answer, and these are the students that end up in my class. For the majority, when I give them an assignment that requires a solution (with no correct answer) they become uncomfortable. In fact, many get mad. I know I am writing this dialog to colleagues but everyone knows that we can’t produce another student that only feels comfortable spitting out correct answers. The “correct answer” skills are outsourced or automated. The system must change.

I am having my students respond by producing “reaction videos" to Karl Fisch’s “Did you know.” I also had my students watch the video “A vision of students today” produced by Kansas State University students within the Digital Ethnography program.

Little or no reaction! What is going on? I think I know…

It is like pulling teeth to get them to feel, to get them to react! It is like they are void of feelings or original thought. And, many of them revert back to what they know and where they are comfortable… their content area “expertise.” Those that get most agitated, “push back” in class and have said things like, ‘I would never use video in my classroom’, and ‘most of us are experts in our content area’ (indicating that changing their model of classroom delivery is not something they are contemplating)… they say these things with distain… I have touched a nerve… I am upsetting their system… a system that has rewarded them for years.

Furthermore, many appear to be afraid to create anything that is original, afraid to share their original ideas.

Wow, I am getting a great education out of this class.

More to follow…

Views: 28

Comment by Durff on October 28, 2007 at 8:56am
I feel the same way in middle school and high school. It is difficult to climb over the mountain - but if we all do it then we will prevail!
Comment by Connie Weber on November 12, 2007 at 5:49am
So thought-provoking! Keep your reflections coming! Maybe you should post some of the entries on the main forum as well. We can all learn from this.
I agree with you: "Who's being educated? Me!" It's quite a ride--there's so MUCH to learn.
Comment by Connie Weber on December 2, 2007 at 7:45am
and it's fun, too!
I am just thriving on all the learning.
Comment by Greg Oz on December 3, 2007 at 8:47pm
Yes I can so relate to what you're saying. I also work in Teacher Education and have encountered similar problems. It's good to know I'm not alone.


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