no longer an exclusively vicarious one.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

i stood at the crumbling edge

funny lecture today. some government-type propaganda people came in to tell us about the digital education revolution - the only notes i took down where a bunch of acronyms that no longer make sense to me. and of course, while they were telling us all about how "Technology" was the way of the future and nothing would ever be done without it, the dvd player refused to work properly. this kind of technical difficulty, combined with the cynicism of the experienced teachers who are instructing us can only lead to a particularly jaded outlook for the whole cohort. the way the DET folks are talking sounds like no one will ever use a pen and paper again. ever. while it is blatantly obvious that heaps of schools are still labouring under ancient tech systems. the reason that none of us trust "Technology" is because it stuffs up and often seems superfluous. on the DET site, there are a bunch of laptop 'wraps' - programs (i mean 'tools') specifically designed for the netbooks that are allegedly being rolled out as we speak. i found one a few hours ago, claiming to be an interactive short story. it was just a glorified picture book on the net rather than on paper.

im still thinking this through, but so far i haven't seen anything done on the laptop that could not have been figured out without the silly 'glorified typewriters'. now, i agree that this particular epithet completely ignores the heaps of software that come installed on the netbook - onenote and the adobe suite stand out particularly - but the fact that no one is willing to spend any money on getting teachers acclimatised to the new changes makes them practically redundant. yes, kids can now talk to people on the great barrier reef, but they could have done that with a single IWB.

and then theres the troubleshooting. we are expected to use all this tech for Good, and they are attempting to teach us how to use the myriad 'tools' - but the fact is we haven't grown up mucking around on them. i have never seen, let alone used onenote, i don't know much about photoshop, audacity, IWBs, freemind, or creative commons. sure, they might be able to teach me, in one and a half years, the basics of all this software, but besides the fact that most of it will be obsolete by then, what about fixing problems? what happens when someone's system crashes, the IWB freezes, somebody BOD's? why do you think noone ever thought it a good idea to give all school-age kids a mobile phone?

final gripe for today (i promise). "Technology". i had a huge problem with the propaganda lady today and how she kept saying it like it was some glorious path to light. i have never seen an IWB in sydney uni at all. honestly, i have no real idea of what it is. one of my tutoring kids - a 6-yr old - would not believe me when i told him that a zebra was a real animal the other day. i kind-of don't believe in the reality of the IWB. i could point one out in a picture and tell you it's magical properties, but the same thing holds for me and dragons. actually, i probably know more about dragons. "Technology" is not a place we are going. it is not something that is invading our lives. it is not even a single entity that can do anything on its own. it is a bunch of tools that we have created. we can use them - or we can not. i realise that it is now mandated in the curriculum, and yes, if necessary i am sure i will be able to teach some kids how to use academically-related tools. they can talk to people on the other side of the globe - but they could do that with pen-pals. they can look at the NSW house of reps on a laptop wrap - or they could go there, sit in the chairs and smell the upholstery. 'technology' is a way of organising things, or a material product (wiki). it is nothing without someone steering it and feeding something into it. that is where all this money should have gone. when the netbooks are obsolete (read: in 2 years) someone, somewhere is going to realise that instead of flushing our taxes down the proverbial, we could have begun a process of teaching critical thinking around communication systems (technologies). that requires regular exposure to one computer and more focus on thinking, instead of continually producing gigabytes of stuff that simply shows which kids know how to use photoshop the best, and that will hang around on school servers until it looks silly.

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35 Comments:

Blogger Ben Jones said...

Thanks for the feedback on our presentation.

If I could address some of the issues you have raised about the DERNSW program:
- This morning I emailed a list of direct URLS for my acronyms to your lecturer who will share these with you. And welcome to DET, the land of acronyms (you'll understand this more in your first day at a school, we really do like acronyms)
- $8.3m was given to high schools & regions (this financial year with another amount to come next financial year and the following) to provide professional learning on how to use the laptops in the classroom, I did forget to mention that so I see how you feel that a bunch of resources have been put online and teachers told to enjoy.
- The resources (aka latop wraps etc) are not meant to be interactive as in click here, spin this watch this. Rather they provide structures and examples for teachers to create an interactive learning sequence such as students creating a video or visual multimedia mind map.
- We also didn't mention the rest of the DERNSW package, it comes with a Wireless Network accross all learning areas and a school based technology support officer.
- As you point out in the future netbooks may be obsolete but they will be repalced with another technology
- Your point about pens & paper is certainly something the world and educators are grappling with, think about how little you even need a signature now. If SU is anything like my uni experience you sign on day one then everything is digially processed, you walk out with a $30,000 HELP fee debt based on 1 signature. Also think about how many of your friends can drive a manual car, ride a hourse or hand wash a full load of clothes. We live in a technology rich environment like it or not. That said i'm a big fan of blended learning.

I think this is some great research for you to read: http://publications.becta.org.uk/display.cfm?resID=41343

Welcome to the teaching profession :-)

Ben

March 10, 2010 6:19 pm

 
Blogger Brendan said...

I don't know what made me feel sadder after reading this post - the idea that someone about to embark on a career in teaching wasn't excited as I was about one of the most revolutionary policy decisions in schools since I can remember, or that someone about to be a teacher had such an inflexible approach to modern schools. Can I make a request? Write another post 12 months after you start teaching, and talk about the technology that your students WANT you to use, what engages kids in your classroom and, finally, what support you get in implementing technology in your classroom.( Just hope you end up in the Hunter Central Coast Region of NSW - they are exemplary technology leaders) Good luck in your career - the best job you can have, I reckon.

March 10, 2010 6:22 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome. Loved it.

March 10, 2010 6:32 pm

 
Blogger John said...

I must confess after reading your blog to being concerned with the types of graduates that will be working in schools in the near future.

If your attitude is typical to most teachers in training than we are in big trouble.

I have seen students who where disengaged with learning suddenly come alive and find that they can achieve. This was done with the use of technology and changing the way ideas was presented.

If technology can help this to happen than I will milk it as much as I can.

One last comment.

You are going to face greater challenges than dealing with technology, please keep an open mind.

March 10, 2010 6:36 pm

 
Anonymous Parallel Divergence said...

I was depressed reading this. Firstly I couldn't comprehend how a young soon-to-be much-needed teacher could be so negative writing about ed-tech ON A BLOG.

Have you ever thought about the reasons why you even have a blog?

Secondly, if "government-type propaganda" irks you so much, why would you want to work in an industry which is so politicised?

Thirdly, yes, there are problems. But even with this initial six months that we've had with 1:1 netbooks in the hands of students, there have been remarkable wins.

This innovative program is the catalyst for change that teachers and school education in general in this country that is sorely needed. Negative, backward facing new recruits simply help to propagate the old ways. The same old ways that are failing many of our children in the 21st century.

I don't know if this attitude is being taught by the university (I suspect it may be) or if you claim sole credit for your rant. Either way, I think the large proportion of current teachers who are due to retire over the next few years would be very worried for the students of the future.

March 10, 2010 7:11 pm

 
Blogger brad said...

Haha, whether you like it or not, using digital methods of teaching is quickly becoming the standard.

I'd like to think I'm a pretty-tech savvy student, like most teenagers these days. Unless your using some from of technology in every class - such as an Interactive Whiteboard or a data projector - I'm not going to pay attention. Why? In the 5 minutes it takes you to write up notes from your text book from 1975 on the blackboard, I can use the Internet to find thousands, or even millions of alternate up-to-date sources on the topic.

Yes, I could write to a pen-pal and wait 4 weeks for a reply. Or I could email them or even do an instant live webcam session with them. And you don't see the advantages of that?

I expect teachers to have interactive lessons planned for us every day, using as much digital resources there are available to them. No excuses. Virtual tours through Pompeii in History, a video conference with a class from across the globe in Geography, slide show presentations in English and Math contest against global competitors in Maths.

It seems that it is not the laptop roll-out that is the problem, but the lazy teacher who is unwilling to accept something new, such as yourself.

Also, it is not the netbook that will become obsolete in 2 years, but your own methods of teaching.

dernsw.com

March 10, 2010 7:28 pm

 
Anonymous Pip said...

I note the above comments from your future peers and students. I would now like to comment as a future parent of one of your students.

My child has a fantastic future in a digital world that is exponentially changing. To teach her using tools for a world we know everything about would be a diservice to her confidence, resilience and love of creative arts.

My daughter will need skills such as the ability to collaborate with peers, an understanding of design, an ability to explain herself in any situation, and most importantly - strong research skills. I would think that the knowledge she will find in books, and the skills she will learn on a blackboard are miniscule compared to what she can discover and develop on the little tiny digital textbook we all now call DERvices.

I really do hope that when she meets you in Day 1 of Year 11 that you are prepared to let her take learning risks, sit beside her as she discovers new skills, and reflect with her as she makes mistakes.

Thanks in advance, see you at Parent-teacher night to discuss her successes and journeys.

March 10, 2010 8:33 pm

 
Blogger troymartin7 said...

Interesting reading this...
First up: Sadly: 'Haha, whether you like it or not, using digital methods of teaching is quickly becoming the standard.'
It is more likely you will come into contact with little pockets of teachers and students who have embraced ICT, while those groups being equalled or doubled by the people ignoring it due to:
1. lack of govt. support- like having no wireless, but having notebooks,
2. bad experience with technology,
3. lack of expertise,
4. Plain resistence.
Imagine, tracking a students changes to an essay or other written document, or students using YouTube to show you what they have learnt (nope, won't ever be tested in NAPLAN, does that mean we ignore it?), or perhaps a class where whole class discussion just doesn't work, four or five students take over. Whereas you could post to edmodo and see 60 replies, students, interacting with each other. Or just maybe, video conferences between like minded students, from different social backgrounds, learning from each other.
Or just maybe, we should booked them in to the computer room so they can type up their resume.

You could also replace 'technology' with Indigenous Education, or literacy/Numeracy across all KLAs, or whole school welfare practices.

March 10, 2010 8:59 pm

 
Anonymous LindaJ said...

Hi Mels

I agree with others that it is a worry that you have such a negative attitude so ealry in your exposure to the education field. Please remember that the technologies you are being shown are just tools!

If they are to make a difference it is in engaging students - who are constantly exposed to technology and connectedness in their personal worlds, but not just for the sake of technology itself. Don't make them glorified notetakers, or Overhead Projectors. Use the capacity to connect wider than the classroom, to enable collaboration and find experts beyond classroom teachers!

And don't reject pen and paper, or chalk and talk when they will suffice! (especially when your connections/internet fail). You just use a bigger toolkit!

Btw, have you considered checking your writing style, which reeks of education via txt msg rather than following proper grammatical rules about capital letters, etc?

March 10, 2010 9:15 pm

 
Blogger Pixeltoy said...

I can't help but ROFLMAO!
I'm glad you are going into High School teaching. We have enough troglodytes in Primary!
PS: Parallel Divergence sounds pretty irked. Pity. He can be a real asset in ur ICT teaching journey- a fountain of knowledge, always willing to guide.
Then you have Brad all in a fluster as well.
All in all I say 'gratz'. You have stirred the pot and revitalised discussion.

March 10, 2010 9:32 pm

 
Blogger Barbara Schaffer said...

Hi,
I bet you are surprised by all the interest in this post. Must have touched a nerve I guess. Seems a bit ironic to me that you seem so hostile toward "technology" when you have been actively using a blog for the last 5 years . A blog which clearly links you to your favourite music, websites and generally connectes you to lots of important things in your life. i bet you also love your mobile phone and your ipod ....am I right ? My guess is something about the way the message about technology in education is being presented to you which makes you feel uneasy. Is it The messenger rather than the message that you want to shoot. I think I understand where you are coming from, you know sometimes I attend training and development which makes me feel that I am being fed the "party line'. I guess presenters have to tread a tenuous line they need to be enthusiastic advocates without seeming overzealous (or even evangelistic)I don't envy then that task.
i am a classroom teacher and i find technology helps me to do my job in a more engaging and interactive way. I am prepared to use any tool that will help me to teach in a more effectve way, and technology offers me a lot. Technology offers me tools it doesn't provide answers ... like a blackoard or a tv set,it can be mind deadening or inspiring depending on how it is used and what's on it.
IT'S GREAT TO QUESTION , keep questioning,and criticising and reflecting and discussing because questioning minds are exactly what we need in the teaching profession. And keep on using technology as a way of making your voice heard, challenging and
criticising and all the rest.
Must away, I have to watch "the IT crowd ... !"

March 10, 2010 9:45 pm

 
Blogger meagan.rodda said...

Please tell us exactly how you plan to provide quality in depth learning experiences whilst engaging the masses

March 10, 2010 9:57 pm

 
Anonymous kmcg2375 said...

Those government-type propaganda people are some of the very few actual practitioners you will have contact with in your university degree, so might I suggest you listen up and try and get a feel for what is waiting for you on the other side.

Or, was it just the 'government' part of it that bothered you? If you think ICT issues are a-political in the private system, boy oh boy do you have another thing coming! Many elite private schools have had 1:1 laptops programs for yonks, and other independent schools face the same problems as we 'government propaganda types.

That said, hun I do feel for you. And the reality of how much technology doesn't solve all the ills of education is something you can only begin to dream up. But you also seem to have NO IDEA about how hard it is to engage students in authentic, engaging lessons in rooms that are entirely geared toward everyone sitting in nice rows and listening to the teacher at the front of the room.

Consider some of the basics you are being taught at Uni, ones I'm sure you'll agree with. Group work is good, right? OK, so try doing group work with a class of 30 in a room that was built for 24. Student feedback is good too. But you try providing individual feedback to 30 students in a 40 minute lesson. Of course, you can always make notes in their books...and you will just LOVE carrying those 30+ books to and from your car/home...not!

No-one is trying to tell you to chuck out the 'old' ways. But why on earth would you NOT want more tools in your teaching toolkit? That just seems weird to me.

And if you have found your lecturers are under-equipped and cynical, it also seems odd that you are aiming to copy that approach to teaching.

Please reconsider your position. You are only just starting out in this profession and there is so much to hate! Don't waste it hating on the things and people that want to make your practice better.

March 10, 2010 10:04 pm

 
Anonymous kmcg2375 said...

PS: I was also tickled pink by the irony of griping about technology on a blog. ROFLMAO!

Seriously though - if you are blogging then you have already learned most of the skills you will need to use the other tools you mentioned. Just like I am an English teacher, but have not read every book...but I learned how to read, so it turns out I am going to be OK - when I have to teach a book I haven't read, I can just read it! You will be OK too if you are willing to learn anything that extends you beyond your undergraduate degree ;)

March 10, 2010 10:09 pm

 
Blogger dean said...

There simply is no room in education for dullards and wingers. The staff rooms are already full. If this is your academic understanding of learning and teaching; then I would assume you are the 'tick the box' kind of student and therefore teacher. Take notice of the people who are leaving you comments - many of them have what we call in the metaverse 'Reputation'; you are getting free and valuable advice.

Which brings me to wonder; what are you actually learning? Technology, by nature is us-sustainable; however the under-pinning materials and strategies are longstanding.

You really do need to rethink what you say and how you say it; this post I am sure will be something that has been RSS'd and captured by many who teach pre-teachers as well as your future employers.

So now it's there, you can't take it back - however you can learn from it.

Welcome to teaching.

March 10, 2010 10:18 pm

 
Blogger Ms Teach said...

Wow! I am somewhat dumbstruck by your negativity and the fact that you gripe about technology yet are actively blogging. I would love you to visit our classroom in which we explore texts using a variety of technologies from pen & paper to laptops, Flip cameras, iphones and sometimes IWBs. We would love to share with you and help to increase your confidence. What concerns me most is not that you purport to dislike technology but your negative attitude. Broaden your mind a little. The hardest thing in the world is to engage 30 teenagers in a class every school day for a year. Any technology that will help do that and help teach them skills and develop their understanding is a godsend and nothing to be scoffed at. BTW please give those DET people a break. They have so much to offer. Try to park your cynicism at the door. Your teaching and your life will be all the richer for it.

March 10, 2010 10:26 pm

 
Blogger avogelnest said...

In my experience, an exceptional teacher is one with a passion for learning and their subject matter. If you have this, you will experiment with anything that motivates the kids to engage in the learning process, and technology does this in so many ways, on so many levels. If you have this, you will continually be excited by the new learning opportunities our changing environment offers us. Just look at the comments to your blog for an example of why these new technologies should be used in the classroom! Yes, we will continually be having to learn about the new technologies that will be obsolete in a few years perhaps, but they with only be obsolete because something better has replaced it. And that's exciting! A experience of visiting to the Great Barrier Reef will NEVER be as good as a VC with a scientist there, but a VC with a scientist there is better than looking at pictures and a description in a book.

I too did the Mteach at Syd Uni 10 years ago and remember it to be a course centred around constructivism and innovation in teaching practice. I hope you keep an open mind. The effort is definitely worth it.

March 10, 2010 10:30 pm

 
Anonymous JanGreen31 said...

You leave the reader in no doubt as to your stance on the value of technology as a learning tool. Your commitment to your beliefs is evident and you communicate that with passion and verve. I like your attitude to saying yes.

As teachers though, we are also learners and we model that every day in everything we do and say.

As learners we value reflection, creative thinking, deep knowledge and understanding, problem solving, authenticity and feedback. We work towards excellence and try to establish quality environments in which this can occur.

So as teachers that's also what we need to do. We have to engage with the needs of our students and ensure that they have the best possible experiences and opportunities; to create a learning environment that meets the students' needs (not mine or yours necessarily - but the students). We have a moral purpose, a core business to work with our students towards achieving excellence in all endeavours.

Technology is one tool in a suite of tools that can help us be the best possible learners and teachers.

So keep an open mind,focus on the positive, connect, collaborate and create.

March 10, 2010 10:32 pm

 
Anonymous woojm said...

Interesting isn't it...all these comments from consultants, executive teachers, principals, teachers, and even a yr 10 student ( Hi Brad!). If you don't know why, it's because you've been 'twittered' and possibly hundreds of people who care about education, engaging students, and learning ( all in their own time - look at the times these comments have been posted )have looked at your blog and been disgusted by your attitude.I know this because they form a large part of my PLN oh wait, no acronyms, that's my personal learning network. We help each other with ideas, suggestions, we vent, we praise.
Saying that you haven't grown up with these technologies is no longer an acceptable excuse for inadequacy. I'm 41 years old and didn't grow up with them either. Teachers never stop learning.
If you go into high school teaching you are heading into classrooms where students have these powerful tools in their bags and WANT to be engaged. A NST has a hard enough time in a school as it is without having a head-in-the-sand attitude towards learning anything new. And believe me, if you don't know at least a little about tech you are going to have a difficult time. Many schools now have IWBs ( in my former school it was EVERY SINGLE CLASSROOM ), all have laptops in yr 10 and soon yr 9, and a lot of money and time has been spent on familiarising teachers with various software options. Suggest you embrace it or choose a less challenging career.
Maybe you should follow some of these guys on twitter to improve your understanding of what's going on in the real world?

March 10, 2010 10:35 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As opposed to most others raise questions of your morality towards technology, I must point out that it seems you don't really know how to use the shift tool.
I also sincerely hope you're not planning on teaching English because there was also quite a few points of poor grammar.

March 10, 2010 10:41 pm

 
Blogger Simon Borgert said...

Woops seems this post went a bit viral in the Twittersphere - try following #dernsw to get a really good idea (warts and all) of how the DER programme is being implemented across NSW. Not all those who have posted are computer nerds (well maybe most :) ) but they are willing to see the advantage of what such a programme can potentially offer. Is the glass half full? ;-)

Luckily I can remember what some of the drab university guest lectures are like.... but the real deal is what has been posted as comments. Particularly like the use of a blog for your message - kinda ironic. Enjoy teaching - it really is the best job in the world

March 10, 2010 10:42 pm

 
Blogger Ben Jones said...

mels k
Wow, I dropped by to revisit this post it seems you have stirred up some discussion.

I hope by the time you read this post you are not thinking your post was a bad idea. Discussion, deconstruction, reconstruction and reflection are essential skills to being an effective teacher. Without them we are but zombies.

Something they don't teach at university is the value of professional dialogue. I can learn far more in a topic discussion such as you have presented than by attending any face to face course.

You have now heard from teachers, parents, students and even a school Principal (I won't tell you which one). They are the voice of schools (students, teachers and leaders and parents/community) who have been crying out for a digital revolution in schools for a long time. The government is now responding to their needs.

I hope you don't mind but I will be converting your post to PDF (don't worry I'll remove all names and links) to share as I see lots of value in this discussion.

In case you are think "how did they find out about me?" many teachers use Google reader to track key words on the web, because you talked about DER, technology and Education you appeared on many radars. Why because that is what teachers are interested in, it’s now part of our core business.

My last thought is for you to image this:
- Your post was actually a piece of stimulus material about some core content of your teaching area
- The 22 comments are from your students responding with their views and online resources they have found, supporting their view
- You have gone through and provided a short paragraph in response to each of their comments
- Your students’ parents have looked at the posts and also added their comments

My questions to you:
1. How many outcomes have you achieved? (I see communication, ICT, Syllabus, literacy)
2. Have you provided personalised feedback? (I say yes)
3. Have you engaged parents and community in your teaching? (I say yes)
4. Did you need any special skills or attend any course? (I'll let you answer that)
5. Could you do it as effectively with paper and pen? (rhetorical)

Tip: quick write a lesson plan up, just put a Creative Commons lic on it and share.

I really hope you have a great practicum and bring your skills to the classroom because as Brad made clear our students are waiting.

oh yeah don't forget to Blog through your pracs as you have just developed a stronger professional learning network (add PLN to your acronym list) than some practicing teachers.

Welcome once again to the profession.

Ben :-)
is how many outcome sha

March 10, 2010 10:58 pm

 
Blogger DolloWSR said...

Schools, academies and systems need heretics, they bring about change and rigour too. But there is a stack of good advice here from people who know their stuff. I work in one of those acronyms, an SSP. My kids have challenges far in excess of any faulty DVD or blue screen of death, and therefore so do their teachers, but every one of those kids LOVES the learning and success they get from tech. As a teacher of those students the engagement is a miracle, I hope you get to see such beautiful things in your classes in the future. It really works.

March 10, 2010 11:04 pm

 
Blogger Bianca said...

Hi Mel,
I am lucky enough to be one of those crazy teachers who are up at this hour (10.50pm) discussing our use of technology in the classroom via twitter (I'm @biancah80 if you'd like to say hi) ... and more so lucky because my PLN led me to your blog.
Wow! For me I'm not surprised at all by your attitude, in fact I'd say there are many people thinking along the lines you are. The Daily Telegraph and Channel 9 are such a pervasive influence on Australian mentality and morality. It is difficult to overcome negativity about education and the genuine efforts to shift away from an 18th century education paradigm that are being made by leading educationalists around the world. After all school is simply about keeping the kids swallowing the information, right?
It saddens me to read your thoughts on technology (despite the irony - mentioned already - of your chosen medium and the fact that you've referenced wikipedia as a source) as I hear these often from what you call 'experienced' teachers. I'd say that sticking at a job (often the same school, or at least those with similar SES) does not entitle one to the label 'experienced'. Learning and a willingness to change and grow is what truly defines an 'experienced' teacher. How can one be 'experienced' if we stagnate? How can can one be 'experienced' if we refuse to see the world from a new perspective?
I have been 'teaching' for 5 years yet I feel I am only just 'becoming' a teacher now thanks to the advice of Darcy Moore to join twitter and to create a PLN. Since October last year I have been learning, connecting and collaborating with people around NSW, Australia and the world. These people are educationalists - they are life long learners who are passionate about guiding young people to be the best possible people they can be. (They'll be guiding you soon, actually, I think they're doing it right now!) They guide young people to think, to feel and to share.

Digitial citizenship is essential if one is to be a global citizen.

I know you're not the only person with such negative thoughts about technology and education. I hear them everyday.

But I also see my two boys light up when talking about the IWB they use at school and when they pass to the next level of Mathletics and Reading Eggs.

The world is changing. Change with it.

March 10, 2010 11:08 pm

 
Blogger Bianca said...

And Mel, if you want to check out a class blog in action, here's mine:
http://davo11s.wordpress.com

I also recommend looking into edmodo - my kids love it, if you have to write a paper on web 2.0 in education (fingers crossed you do, lucky thing!) then it's called a 'micro-blog' and it's my fav web app atm.

Bianca :-)

March 10, 2010 11:13 pm

 
OpenID maximos62 said...

I think the writer has missed the point. Most of my students are quite excited and engaged by the comprehensive set of digital tools that come with their DER Laptops.

I've seldom used a Laptop wrap, generally I don't need to.

There's one class in particular, the only 1:1 laptop class I had last year that I prepared for six months before they received their laptops, I made sure that they developed and consolidated the skills they'd need when the laptop roll-out occurred. Tonight we actually showed some of their early work, as PowerPoints, at a school Open Night.

Today, the same group, a Year 10 Elective Geography class, spent two full periods pulling together individual media portfolios as an assessment task. They'd been researching in a general way for two weeks and we'd reviewed various approaches to media portfolios.

At the outset a student said to me, "What's biophysical environment, again". I smiled and said, "Just go to Google and type in 'define: biophysical'". It was the last question he asked.

Another student did have a problem with his laptop, but after he re-booted all ran very smoothly.

I've never seen students enjoy an assessment as much as this before.

Which software they used was their choice, and part of the assessment.

I'm looking forward to marking the work.

March 11, 2010 12:02 am

 
Blogger Ben Jones said...

I just created some wordles for this discussion:

The blog post: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1763624/i_stood_at_the_crumbling_edge_post

The discussion: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1763622/i_stood_at_the_crumbling_edge_comments

The post + discussion is very interesting: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1763629/i_stood_at_the_crumbling_edge_comments_%2B_post
knowing and thinking is what education is all about

March 11, 2010 12:04 am

 
Anonymous Shani said...

I feel for you. I would just cry if I returned to my blog where I had a rant and received all this negative feedback.

I am in my 7th year of teaching (as a late comer to the profession). It takes a while to be confident to use technology in the classroom and at first you fail and fail again but the students help, or at least try to help.

We had a publisher rep come to our school today, a lovely lady keen to push her product and we will probably buy it. It is a DVD with quite a few interactives that would be great on an IWB. She wasn't great with technology herself, but it didn't matter, because she had a go. In fact, the DVD isn't that great but it is better than just using a textbook and since we have a lot of teachers teaching this subject outside their area of expertise they need all the resources they can get. I am in a very strong technology school so we are well equipped - it is easier for us than most.

Please don't be discouraged by all the comments posted here. Teaching is a very rewarding career. You will find your own way.

Shani

March 11, 2010 12:19 am

 
Blogger mels said...

hello all.
not that im retracting all of what i said. some bits of it still make sense to me, and once i sort them out ill make a more coherent post. but ive posted again (yes, i was this close to deleting the black pool of horrid-ness) and maybe i can convince you all is not lost.
geez, now ive got to go to class tomorrow and peer suspiciously at everyone. =D

March 11, 2010 12:30 am

 
Blogger Ant said...

Mels,

I absolutely understand the reason that so many people came on here to give you (and your (and their)) readers the benefit of their wisdom.

I agree with most of it. I'm an edtech convert with a burgeoning PLN and all that (otherwise how would I have got here?)

But I can't help feeling that the comments about the irony of you posting your scepticism about aspects of educational technology on a blog are a little ironic, in that they perhaps don't see that for many people blogs have nothing to with *technology*; they're just one of the places you can hang out on the internet, which is nothing to do with *technology*, it's just where you do blogging and stuff.

And as for the comments about your language use, well, I'll confess as a middle aged, middle class, Oxford educated English teacher seeing that all lower case text makes me a wince a little. Obviously if you're going to 'publish' your work in a domain where you expect your audience to include people like me, or prospective employers, or the parents of your students, or your students themselves, then you'd better writing in a more conservative style. But I'm pretty sure you already know that and are well capable of doing it. Some of the comments on your blog may show either an inability or an unwillingness to take into account the context and register of your post. As a linguist, I guess I have to confess that the distinction between upper and lower case letters is not a very useful one, and the rquirement for that extra keystroke is pointless, but we cling to it as a marker of power and status.

If I'd been one of the first to this post, if I'd left a comment it all it probably would have been fairly critical to be honest, but having arrived at the end of your 'black pool of horridness' (a lovely phrase that has particular resonance for someone who's holidayed in Blackpool!)I thought I ought to swing behind you a little, as I'm pretty sure you weren't intending this as some kind of manifesto.

Take care!

March 11, 2010 4:03 am

 
Blogger brad said...

I didn't mean to offend or anything. I was just disappointed to see another teacher who wasn't excited about the dernsw.

March 11, 2010 7:28 am

 
Anonymous Ian Gay said...

I am a just retired teacher of 36 years and was the most techno minded person at my primary school.

I think the vast majority of the comments are being excessive. Upon re-reading the blog I don't believe the young lady was actually saying what a lot of people have attributed to her. I certainly wouldn't describe her as a "troglodyte". I say this simply because she has been using the blog for whatever number of years. This comment: "Some university professors are banning laptop computers from their classroom and forcing students to take notes using (gasp) paper and pen. The laptops, say the professors, are distractions, not learning tools." as tweeted by TonySearl http://tinyurl.com/ycze57a shows that the issue is not clear cut.

Essentially she said that she had just had a less than inspiring presentation, "lecture", on the DER notebooks full of acronyms that were meaningless combined with a DVD player that malfunctioned. Perhaps that had something to do with the teacher or presenter? She also appears critical of the DET 'wraps' that were introduced to her. I personally share her view of the 'wraps'.

She also touches on the "achilles heel" of the whole program - training or in-servicing. I have seen enough in the forums, etc that I visit, (plus my own personal experience), to know that she has a point. She also points out, "we could have begun a process of teaching critical thinking around communication systems (technologies). that requires regular exposure to one computer and more focus on thinking", a view that I have sympathy for.

The fact that someone does not slavishly accept or questions something new is to me a good thing. I have similar feelings to the inexorable spread of IWBs. Keep expressing yourself Mels, you have valid points, but be prepared to listen to and evaluate the reactions that come

Ian

March 11, 2010 10:17 am

 
Anonymous Mullos said...

Obviously you don't get OUT much? You should, it's a BIG WIDE WORLD out there! We would welcome you to visit, see, experience and learn what has been happening, is happening and then let you rethink your position for preparing for YOUR future? A Day Away! In your support - you have a lot to learn & experience. Have fun!

March 11, 2010 5:02 pm

 
Anonymous malyn said...

I look at your post positively as a critical analysis of what a pre-service teacher faces, particularly relative to technology.

I think your best point is stating the importance of 'someone' - the people - who use technology. And yes, there are contexts when technology is not the best or only thing. But, as others have said before me, there are many educational/school contexts wherein technology is great - having a technology-amplified PLN included. I daresay your bigger challenge is not in learning or using technology but rather intuit when or whether not to, depending on who is involved.

Here's a tip from an ex-IT professional (now a fairly new teacher), don't worry too much about the how of technology - usually you can google this - and you're right, most things become obsolete by the time you become an expert. Focus more on what it can do and how this can help you teach (or facilitate learning). For example, layers in PhotoShop are also (much simply) in Microsoft Office tools as Send to back/Bring to front. What you can do in Microsoft Word you can probably do in Mac Pages. If you can blog, you can micro-blog (join us in Twitter - I'm @ozmawbs). In other words, there's a lot of technology-knowledge that is transferable. What you don't immediately know, you can google or press F1 (Help) or ask your PLN. By the way, teaching students to seek help (be resourceful in the face of adversity) is a mighty useful lesson.

You're only a few steps behind me in the teaching career. As I try to remind myself constantly, I leave you with - "Enjoy the journey".

March 11, 2010 8:56 pm

 
Anonymous darren said...

I don't know what to make of this post... This is a negative post but I certainly wouldn't agree with the kicking many of the other commenters have dished out. I want to know why a pre-service teacher feels this way. Something isn't right.
Technology is important, and increasingly so, but it not the be all and end all of good teaching. .

March 15, 2010 4:08 pm

 

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