Thursday, September 24, 2009

Educators and Technology

The readings for this week provide some thought-provoking ideas. When I first started reading "Why Educators Should Care About Games," I must admit I was a bit skeptical. My daughter, a graduate of Cal Poly SLO, has related to me many stories of her guy friends' addiction to computer games. I would say the games do engage these young men's minds, do require critical thinking, but at the exclusion of any other social interaction. Nevertheless, I became intrigued by page 78 when the authors began to relate specific activities that involved the classics. It shows me that technology in the classroom need not be at the exclusion of print media, i.e. books.

The explanation of Digital Prometheus caught my attention because of its focus on ethical dilemmas inspired by Frankenstein. Ethics has become a focus of we 12th teachers at my school because students increasingly show they don't have them. They continually make poor decisions that, in many cases, cause them to experience jail time (yes, many have probationary officers) or other serious school sanctions. Using technology to enrich and extend these lessons is a brilliant way to teach students. Also, the approach pulls in important literature that can broaden students' knowledge base. Frankenstein is a recognizable character name that even Mel Brooks copied for one of his movies. Carol Jago, the current NCTE President and a veteran teacher, has published a book about teaching ALL high school students the classics. Extending this reading via technology is a way to achieve equity for all students, not for reading the book but for gleaning the underpinning of theme from it.

One other article of note is "Six Challenges for Educational Technology." This article, while a bit long, was captivating in that Dede realistically states that "Professional development needs are more complex than increasing educators' technical literacy." He says the real issue is building teachers' knowledge and skills in changing their pedagogy and content. He sees, clearly, that not all of the funding can go into purchasing hardware. I couldn't agree more. Just having computers on campus does not mean they will be used effectively. IF the teachers don't know how to integrate technology into their curriculum, the computers become an expensive decoration for the school. Too much effort has been placed on the lower level functions of how to use them and have kids just word process; then the teacher can say s/he is using computers in the curriculum. Expectations must be increased. I feel each school needs a technology/literacy coach who can help teachers change their pedagogy to effect real change.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wow! Trying to figure out how to post my message had me stumped for a few minutes.

As for this week's readings, I found several ideas intriguing. First, I agree with what Barnett says about new technologies--like computers, television, and video--that were expected to change education simply by making it more exciting. I remember my son's teachers telling we parents this same idea. I must admit I was cynical with all the hoopla over the greatness of computers, and my reservations were confirmed. All I ever my son and his classmates doing was playing nifty games with the computer--having fun, or practicing his math. Never was my son shown how to use technology to create a product. The computer was for play or a tutorial. No wonder I felt computers were an expensive toy that served little purpose other than to create some fun in the classroom. I feel this is where schools have gone wrong.

Educators have not been trained as to what the computer can really do. As is usually the case in education, something is bought and little foresight is given to how to train the parties involved. When computers came into education, we teachers were encouraged to take our students to the computer lab, but what were we to do? All we heard was, "Use the computer lab. We have these computers, so use them." We had no training and one computer lab technician who spent most of her time showing us how to start the computer and undo the "screw ups" we created. On those days I was so stressed I prayed nothing catastrophic would occur while I was in the lab. Our work was limited to word processing some journal writes or writing a creative story and printing it.

One statement by Roth made me feel sad. He says that "computers are generally better than humans at disseminating the desired information" because computers "have easier, more immediate access to the desired and required information than most teachers." Granted the computer does have more immediate access to information, but I would hope that humans could disseminate information as good, if not better, than a piece of technology that never takes a breath or feels. Let us never forget that the human touch makes all the difference in the world. Computers/technology is a tool for people and teachers...not a substitute.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Technology is a challenge for me. I attended college over 30 years ago when the state-of-the-art technology was an electric typewriter. My parents loved me enough to buy me an electric typewriter for college. It produced all of my English essays and other research papers. I still have it just for sentimental reasons.
I become easily confused when I use computers, and I'm not convinced they save me much time because I usually create problems when I use them. Computers are great for writing and editing, though. I hope to learn much in the next weeks in my technology course. I will keep a good supply of Excedrin for my headaches and frustration.