Monday, June 29, 2009

You Wanna Know What's Going on in Ed Tech? Ask the teachers and students.

Finally found what I came here for.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, in room dedicated to the student showcase.

No corporate spokespeople. No flashy commercial displays. Just real kids and real teachers showing what they are doing integrating technology into their classrooms.

When it comes down to the brass tacks, this is what NECC is all about.

Because without those kids and those teachers actually having the audacity to engage with tech in their learning environments, all is for naught.

Without that connection being made, without that learning taking place, it's all a carnival.

Among my favorites was a project taken on by Antonio Lenoyr and his students at the Cedros school using Google SketchUp to visualize concepts in geometry and architecture in a unit on 'Architecture and Urbanism'. Another was a presentation on 'Virtual Pioneers' by a teacher named Andrew Wheelock and his middle-school students. And then there was the digital portfolio program from Rhode Island public schools.

In the center of the room is a '21st century Media Center' where teachers and librarians are helping each other learn how to navigate Second Life, create digital storyboards, edit Wikis, and create their own blogs. It's hands-on learning at its best.

As I'm sitting here blogging in the center of all of this activity, I can't help but think: this is what it's all about. It's about giving the tools to students and teachers so that they can make connections. And who are we to say what those connections will or will not be.

Our task as educators is to confirm in our students' hearts and minds that they have both the right and capability to think, make, and do. Our task is to give them the support via content, tools, and skills to think, make, and do. But our task is not to teach them what to think, make, and do.

The big difference between this room of teachers and students and a lot of what was going on downstairs in the big convention room full of tech and software companies lies in that distinction.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're on the right track here. I keep encountering people who already know each other, who are here with a group, who are here to see the edtech and attend the workshops, but who aren't talking about the big issues like "are we still relevant", and who aren't engaging in hard conversations.

    I still would like to talk to you about how to make my classroom paperless.


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