Tuesday, December 07, 2010

2010 Edublog Awards

Just wanted to thank folks for nominating my post Why Teachers Should Blog for the 2010 Edublog Award for 'Most Influential Blog Post'.

Personally, I'm not that into awards. Actually, I take that back. I do watch the Oscars telecast every year. But that's more a habit than anything else; I like production numbers, what can I say? But as far as awards themselves go, I'm relatively ambivalent.

What I like about the annual Edublogs Awards, however, is not so much the awards themselves, but rather the nomination lists. Those nomination lists serve as a compendium of a lot of good writing and a lot of the most positive activity to have occurred over the course of the year. That's not to say that the lists represent everything, nor is it to say that everything in the lists is uniformally of the highest quality. But it's nice to see what our peers have nominated -- and it's nice to see that our peers have nominated. In other words, in these busy times, it's nice to see folks actually taking the time to offer up props to edubloggers where ever they may be and what ever they may be writing.

Check out those lists. The grab-bag starts here. Take a bit of time to look over all of the blogs. It's striking to see just how much quality thinking and serious debate is going on. Kudos to all you bloggers out there.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Teaching Paperless Means Not Paying For Things You Don't Have To

Thanks to the hard work and research of folks like Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers, you have more free resources at your disposal than you could possibly imagine and you really don't have to pay for stuff like what's pictured in the screenshots below just to 'teach paperless':

[Subscribers: visit teachpaperless.com if you can't see the pics.]

Friday, December 03, 2010

Stop Teaching

A reader comments:
I'm of the opinion that technology is hurting education more than enabling it. Yes, access to the collected knowledge of mankind is a good resource, but students still need a guide and interpretor of that knowledge, a guide, a teacher! I am trying to envision my students asking me about how an fission occurs, and I say go look it up. What I am there for then? Could I be replaced by a sign that says, "Turn on computer and don't bother anyone."? 
Thank you for writing. Your comment really got me thinking.

After all: yes, what are you/we there for?

I tend to think that yes, if you or I could be replaced by a computer, we should be. After all, if all you are doing as a teacher is explaining 'how-to', I am sure that there are videos on You Tube that do a much better job. But I suspect that you are actually doing a lot more than that.

You are a teacher. Which means that you spend a little time each day teaching someone how to do something. But you probably spend a lot more time discussing why things happen. Because you are a discusser. And you probably spend a lot of time discussing what it all means. Because you are a philosopher. And you probably spend a lot of time helping frustrated students. Because you are a saint.

Students don't need guides. Kids need folks who can facilitate their being able to explore. Kids are natural explorers. And if you really want to ruin an explorers day, put 'em in a tour group led by a professional guide. Where's the adventure in that? Where's the sense of personal accomplishment? Teachers shouldn't be guides; they should be travel agents. Teachers should set up the trip, but ultimately each student has to take the trip on his or her own.

Kids don't need an interpretor. They don't need someone to interpret knowledge for them. What kids need is an interlocutor. They need some one to argue with. They need someone who can help them figure out how to interpret life's problems on their own. They don't need a translation; they need a conversation.

I've stopped teaching. That is, if teaching implies the hierarchical management and distribution of content for the purpose of assessing whether the content was understood. Instead, I've become a travel agent. I assess success by whether or not a student learned something about the world and about themselves out there on their trip. When they come back from their journey, I'm an interlocutor. I listen to what they have to say. I let them talk to me and I hit them up with some questions and I let them talk some more because I want them to understand what (and how) they think.

I respectfully submit that technology is not hurting education. More often than not, 'teaching' is hurting education.