Sunday, September 14, 2008

Technology in a Useful Fashion

The major problem with technology in the classroom is that very few people know how to use it effectively (how's that for stating the obvious?). Whether it's the teachers I remember from high school who could not figure out how to press 'play' on the VCR, or students simply reading from their PowerPoint Presentations, no one is learning anything new from the use of technology in these instances. I think that to make technology in the classroom useful, we all have to change our thinking about it.

We can no longer just "bring" technology into the classroom, in the form of a television set on wheels, or a laptop and projector that gets set up for the day. We need to infuse it into the course itself. Technology should not just kill time for an easy day (the traditional, "I'm tired today, I'll show a film") nor should it be something to which we expose students every once in a while. Technology surrounds their everyday existence. Sometimes, yes, they are lost under the crush of it, but we need to find a compromise. Is it any wonder that they are bored with traditional school, when life outside the classroom is so exhilarating? They have text messages, cell phone calls, camera phones, flickr and facebook accounts, video games, etc., etc., etc. There are certainly ways to integrate some of these things into the classroom.

We cannot abandon traditional skills, that much is for certain. Traditional reading and writing skills still run the world, although technological creativity is no longer too far behind. Therefore, the emphasis on the classroom should be focused on using technology in meaningful real-world ways that will still pass on the older essential skills to our students. In fact, maybe these revised methods of teaching will help to make our students more involved and interested, thereby actually raising their abilities. It is certainly worth a shot.

There are lots of variables to consider, and each school district has its own limitations when it comes to technology (Dumont certainly has theirs), but there are things each and every teacher can do to promote technological literacy and creativity. In the long run, I believe that an integration of new methods and ideas will only help to reinvigorate both teachers and students, and perhaps we can finally find useful methods of incorporating a projector and a powerpoint presentation into our classes.

This post has taken on much more of a preachy, moralizing tone than I wished, and I still think I'm just stating the obvious. But, I'm going to run with it anyway, as I have lots of technologically influenced ideas that I'm going to begin detailing in the coming posts. Stay tuned.

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