Hmmm...where to begin on this thing? After watching the video, A Vision of Students Today, I found myself torn. Not too long ago, I was one of those kids sitting in the huge lecture hall, bored to tears, thinking of my weekend plans, and trying not to fall asleep while the professor who barely spoke English rambled on about metamorphic rocks. I could empathize with those kids, yet I was also a little offended as a teacher. Were they trying to tell me that my existence as an educator was not important? Am I not beneficial to my students because I'm not allowing them to submit assignments via MySpace? Could my job be outsourced to someone in another country who sets up some Powerpoints and reading assignments for my students to complete online?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the idea that you could just sit your students down in front of a computer, have them watch some videos, take a quiz or two, and possibly learn something in the process without ever having to deal with another human being. No, in the idea that although technology can be awesome and beneficial, human interaction is so vital to the development of children.
For example, my uncle-in-law is an award-winning administrator and someone who I respect very much. I aspire to go back to school and earn a degree to be a secondary school administrator as well. I have a few options, but the two that stand out most for me are:
1) Earn my degree via classes online through Texas A&M University- It would be nice to have a second degree from my alma mater, I could stay at home and learn without having to leave my son, I could self-pace myself easily, etc.
2) Earn my degree the old-fashioned way and take night classes at the University of Houston- I would have to sit through classes after working all day, find a babysitter for my son if my husband works late, spend money on gas to drive, etc.
Option 1 sounds the best, right? After much thought, I hear the echoes of my uncle, "Earning your degree online seems economical, but think of all of the camaraderie you'll lose. If you take classes at the local university, it's easier to network and make friends with people in your field who you might want on your team as your career advances." Although I am very capable of navigating the web and taking classes online, I truly value one-on-one time with my instructors and classmates. Sure, you can have an online discussion or post to blogs, but sometimes, it is more important to have those discussions and A HA! moments in person with the help of your peers or teachers.
So where am I going with this? It is the 21st century, and I think it is time to merge both schools of thought. You know the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it?" Well, I think the whole 2.0 world is calling for us to keep the things that work but add some of the new and innovative technologies to effectively educate our children.
I like how Rick Anderson says, "But if our services can’t be used without training, then it’s the services that need to be fixed—not our patrons." I am just imagining my 80 year-old, recently widowed Nana walking into her local library to pick out a book, only to be bombarded by a computer instead of a librarian to help her with her search. (For the record, I have the coolest Nana on the planet who has signed up for a class at her local library to learn how to use a laptop and the internet so that she can e-mail and shop online.) I would hope that the computer would be a user-friendly, self-explanatory service vs. a hinderance to my sweet little Nana. After reading from Michael Stephens' perspective, Cheryl Laucher pops into mind. (Sorry Cheryl, I'm going to toot your horn yet again b/c you're so awesome!) I grew up going to the local HPL where the librarians shooshed us if your voice was anything more than a whisper and acted annoyed when you asked them for help in searching for a particular book. I admit, after growing up with this mind-set, I do get incredibly frustrated with my middle-schoolers when they are being loud in the library. However, Cheryl is the exact opposite of those crotchety, old, shooshing librarians. She has set up fun stuff for the kids like HawkSpace and a Beat the Rap competition. She is always helpful to both teachers and students, and she truly encourages us all to use technology to better our classrooms and ourselves.
With all of that in mind and with the completion of this project, I find that it will be very easy for me to go back to school in the fall with my technology goals already written. I am determined to find a way for my students and I to build a classroom full of innovative yet user-friendly technologies BUT without losing too much of the beneficial human-interaction that so many of my tween students so desperately need in their lives. That wasn't TOO long-winded now, was it? :)