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The tech lessons teachers can learn from students

? "Can you talk about Google?" |


| CBS and the Public Eye ?

August 19, 2005

The tech lessons teachers can learn from students

Stephen Baker

It's a serious problem for national competitiveness, whether in the United States or Australia: High school kids are getting turned off to computer science because they often know more than their teachers. Earl Mardle discusses it here. The problem is that society, including educators, tends to focus more on the technology (We need more money for computers; We should get into blogs, etc etc.), and less on how these tools get people to think and interact. Mardle says:

We get so damned hung up over the devices instead of focusing on the technologies which are connectivity, networking, access, mobility, tools.

04:30 AM


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For the past couple years, I've been "webmaster" for an online educational program, the Global Virtual Classroom - . The questions on the application include a few regarding some basic tech skills that the teacher should have. It's not uncommon for the applying teacher to stretch their abilities. It's also not uncommon, when they do start running into their limits, that they rely not on picking my brain nor going to their school's tech support folks, but rather have some bright member of their class help them out.

This is to be expected in the older 8th-12th grade age group, but has also happened in the 1st-7th grade group as well.

Posted by: Frank Patrick at August 19, 2005 06:09 AM

This is somewhat a pet peeve of mine. As a whole, the teachers I know are the least tech savvy of any group I know, use older tech at home, investigate new technologies the least. In general, are out of it tech-wise. I see absolutely no self education/exploration either. Very sad.

Posted by: PXLated at August 19, 2005 09:01 AM

You in the back! Stop sending text messages and pay attention to my wise words on wikis!

Posted by: Andrew at August 19, 2005 09:30 AM

if the pace of technology is faster than the pace of a lesson plan, what is one to do? the old teacher to student, learned to learning paradigm doesn't work in this case. let the kids teach.

this may be a good thing. my high school didn't always have how-to lessons in the latest technology (sony betamax, the walkman, centipede). i taught my parents how to use their VCR.

Posted by: maschine at August 19, 2005 12:23 PM

Fortunately, universities like NU employ instructors who have current expertise in the field. Many are foreigners from India and China who are highly skilled and can keep ahead of students. They also understand that modern students are natural born multitaskers who can simultaneously view a computer screen, listen to music in one ear and the lecture in the other, and trouser text. It is understood that as long as the behavior doesn?? interfere with others, as in the music is playing too loud than it is a go. If that?? what it takes to get students into engineering, math, and science programs here in the US than so be it.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 19, 2005 12:50 PM

It is difficult for many teachers to become proficient in technology if their school district does not have sufficient funds to equip classrooms with minimal equipment. It would be like giving someone piano lessons and then deny that person access to a piano or any other music making instrument.

Posted by: david moutrie at August 20, 2005 11:36 AM

David, I'm sure that's true in many areas. But in the cases I'm familiar with, rich schools spend loads of money on equipment, and they brag about it. But kids get bored to tears in computer class. My children go to a rich school district in New Jersey. In ninth grade computer class my son spent weeks copying memos from the 1960s. This was to improve his "keyboarding skills." My point is that they should focus less on the equipment, and more on engaging the students in interesting activities. Moving away from computer education, the international potential is enormous, but I never anything about it. Children in a Spanish class, for example, could get great practice IMing with kids in Spain or Argentina.

Posted by: steve baker at August 20, 2005 01:08 PM

I believe it is very hard to lure the best in the IT industry to teach in the K-12 schools for the simple reasons as

(1) significant pay cut

(2) not highly recognized by the society

(3) parents demands can be obnoxious

(4) union system, rewards seniority not performance, can turn off many aspiring IT professionals

Posted by: ChoiLung Wong at August 22, 2005 01:16 PM

As a teacher who is very interested in technology, I would just like to say that I would be more than happy to learn technology, if there was time. But, by the time I get home and tend to 2-3 more hours of correcting and planning lessons, there just isn't enough time. If I were in the corporate world, I may even have the training paid for by the company; but in education I would have to pay for it myself.

Posted by: Lynn at October 27, 2005 03:23 PM

Steve are you talking about today or several years past??? I thought those days had gone. We are distance educators in primary and have some great problem and inquiry learning going on. We do have kids from other countries joining in as well. Your comments at the beginning about kids knowing more than the teachers is very true at present. However if the teachers change attitudes and become part of a learning community alonside the students, things become more interestng for both parties. We all have fun!

Posted by: Pamela at November 11, 2005 04:58 AM

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