November 29, 2006

Listening to Native teachers

Most of our conversations take place between fairly like minded educators who live and breathe web 2.0. Mentions of those who do not get it, are only done with 3rd party references. “So and so said”….”I heard a conversation in the staff room”…that sort of thing.

Wes Fryer did a workshop the other day on podcasting with a number of teachers new to the read/write web. He had them post some questions and comments on a blog he created for the session. I read quickly through some of the comments and they most definitely are representative of a great number of our teachers. I’m sure Wes responded to many of their concerns but I thought I’d also chime in with some responses. Here goes:

How does blogging relate to the skills students need to know for TAKS?

There hasn’t been much research on the topic but certainly blogging isn’t designed to specifically improve test scores. It’s designed to connect learners and provide an audience and purpose for writing and communicating ideas.

How easy is it to moderate profanity that continuously happens?

How easy is it to moderate profanity that continuously happens in the playground?

Is there documented evidence that “laptops in the hands of students” increase student achievement? Do TAKS scores increase wherever all students have laptops?

See previous response. But again, is there any evidence proving pencils will increase student achievement?

I really think the idea ($100 laptop) is innovative…and will give many students access to things they never would have without the technology. It is a way to make the world so much smaller! I do worry about moving too quickly into things and educators not being adequately prepared.

You should be but we have no choice. Waiting for educators to get comfortable is not something we can wait for.

This will allow kids without the resources of developed countries to be engaged in the learning with the electronic community.

And the kids of developed countries will still be waiting for their weekly period in the computer lab.

Initially, I would say that all my students need one of these, then I start to freak out and wonder how I can control what they are doing with this tool?

Ding, ding, ding….hold your calls, we have a winner! This is the critical barrier for our teachers. Control. I agree, we will freak out, it is going to be hard but again, we have little choice.

You’ll see some of my responses are a bit cheeky and I suppose a bit harsh so I apologize if some were offended but I certainly would have answered them in a much more diplomatic way as I’m sure Wes did but I did feel these are very indicative of our current teaching population. I always try and sort out which questions represent a lack of understanding and which are the ones resisting change. I have less patience with the latter.