Friday, February 17, 2012

Promethean board is just a blackboard : How do we use tech tools?

I was recently lucky enough to spend a day observing a very wealthy school. I was disheartened to see that, despite all their resources, amazing technology, dedicated students and well-educated teachers, they were still teaching the same material using the same ways that I had been taught when I was a student...except that they were using a Promethean board instead of a blackboard.

This sentiment was rediscovered last night during a #langchat meeting. The topic was using tech tools to further communication skills in language learners. Many teachers suggested many interesting sites, ranging from Photopeach to Edmodo. I couldn't help but feel that these were simply toys to recreate the same processes that we used/use in a "traditional" classroom. Something like Edmodo is merely a notebook with internet access, gathering the day's lesson, assignments and homework in one convenient location. I want to know how we can use tech tools to CHANGE or FURTHER education. 

I certainly think that even the most basic tech tools can enhance learning by providing a larger audience outside the school. It can also provide more authentic feedback; I'm thinking specifically of linking students with native speakers via things like Skype or GoogleVoice. 

Other, tools such as SoapBox, can help shy students participate more fully in class, or make activities such as watching a movie or listening to a lecture more interactive and student-focused.

But none of these work without the intrinsic motivation of the student. If a kid doesn't want to blog and never checks the site, what good does it do if other people are looking at it? And even if he/she does join in the blogging, is it just because they enjoy the fame? 

Thus, my question to you: how do we use tech as a genuine tool of enthusiastic learning?

Editor's update: an interesting blog post by Mark Gleeson that talks about how iPads can be used to facilitate writing, but not improve writing 

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