wasting bandwidth since 1999

Digital Students in the Traditional Classroom

David Warlick asks some very good questions based on the inescapable fact that our students are coming to school this fall with all manner of digital communications devices. However, rather than using these tools to connect the kids to the world, most schools will put a lot of effort into limiting their use.

It’s not working. Our schools are leaking. The attention of the kids is leaking out of the container into the real world and we need to decide what to do about it.

If we decide to embrace and use these communications tools, David asks some very relevant questions about what the newly connected classroom should looks like.

* Do textbooks go away? No, textbooks can lay open beside of a laptop, or textmessaging mobile phone (though I suspect that textbooks will be evolving into something else).
* Do we abandon our classroom and go exclusively online? No, though I suspect that we may be able to teach our children better by spending less time in the classroom and more time working and playing the information outside the classroom.
* Do we still need teachers with a teacher’s desk, chalk board, and pointer? Yes, though the chalkboard must change as must the pointer. However, our definition of what a teacher does will change from that of delivering skills and content, to that of creating and crafting experiences through which students will learn to teach themselves.
* Will the class bell go away? No, but study hall and homework are going to become something entirely different.
* Will college training for teachers change? Yes, but more important than that, the job of being a teacher will also be that of being a student. We will learn constantly, and each day, we will share with our students something that we have just learned.

I disagree with some of his answers (in italics).

Textbooks should go away, at least in the static, hardbound form they now take. The information should be online, dynamic, and editable by both teacher and student. School bells for the most part must also disappear. They are artificial delimiters on the amount of time that should be spent in any one activity.

He is exactly right, however, about teachers assuming the role of students. If we are ever going get our students to be "life-long learners" (read the mission statement of most schools), teachers must model the process and not preach it.

They also must learn to incorporate the same communication tools used by their students (largely for recreation) into their teaching and learning. The longer the process takes, the less relevant school as we know it becomes.

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4 Comments

  1. First this:

    However, our definition of what a teacher does will change from that of C, to that of creating and crafting experiences through which students will learn to teach themselves.

    then this:

    * Will college training for teachers change? Yes,
    but more important than that, the job of being a teacher
    will also be that of being a student. We will learn
    constantly, and each day, we will share with our
    students something that we have just learned.

    What’s the point of learning constantly,
    if the teacher no longer delivers skills and content?

  2. Tim

    That is a large, illogical jump to say that a teacher who is learning constantly no longer deliver skills and content. The most successful teachers (both in terms of test scores and real learning) I’ve ever met are the ones who are continually learning themselves.

  3. Tim,

    I was responding to the claims made in the italicized
    part of the post. There, it is said simultaneously
    that teachers need not deliver skills and content but should
    be perpetual students. So, my question is why be a perpetual
    student if you shouldn’t deliver skills and content?

  4. Tim

    I won’t try to David’s words in that sentence. Of course, teachers will always have to teach some skills and content.

    However, the more we can help our students learn to extend that basic knowledge on their own, the better off they will be for the rest of their lives.

    Just knowing enough to pass the test is a lousy foundation these days.

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