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Recent diaries have raised alarms about educational policy:

What I have NOT seen (and I am not that diligent looking for it) is SUBSTANTIVE DISCUSSION about what SHOULD be the educational policy given the undeniable impact of INTERNET and digital media.

All of us at DKOS are active internet users. We are no longer dependent on traditional media for our information. We can LEARN on our own, if we are motivated; we MUST learn on our own, given the desperate state of affairs.

 I'm just a substitute teacher in public school, retired after teaching college (before I went on to other lines of work). The internet developed while I was teaching in the early 90's, but by the time I started subbing in public schools (just a couple of years ago), I was amazed at how much the internet and digital media have penetrated education.

(Cell phones, texting, etc. in classrooms is a troublesome issue, don't get me started)

As a sub, I am required to take rather minimal continuing education. Seems to me that I and other teachers need A LOT MORE continuing education, to be fully able to use the resources of internet and digital media.

I am all for tenure to protect teachers from political pressures, etc. But I also think teachers can AND SHOULD be motivated, incentivized, encouraged to get continuing ed.

Two examples from my experience:

1) Subbing in social science, I have been in a classroom where the very good teacher has a huge library of excellent documentary videos. Of course, as a sub, I have been assigned to show those videos. Typical substitute assignment, and I'm not saying it like it was a bad thing. To do my job I need digital media and internet skills, for which I need continuing education.

2) Subbing in Spanish. For a couple of teachers, I think they are doing fine but not really taking full advantage of internet and digital resources. I have pretty much taught myself Spanish, never took a formal class but spent a year in Mexico in the 60's. I have greatly improved my own Spanish with use of internet translation. No, you can't just take what the machine gives you, but you can use the machine to help you learn. When I sub in Spanish classes I discuss with students how to use online resources, NOT to avoid work, but to make their own learning experience BETTER. I believe in this. The trick is you compose in Spanish, not in English, and then you look at the English to see if it says what you mean. You can try different constructions easily to see how they affect the meaning in translation.

I acknowledge valid concerns in AFT and NEA positions, but I think they will make their case more effectively by acknowledging and somehow addressing the dramatic changes that have come with internet and digital media.


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Comment Preferences

  •  It would be great if you could (0+ / 0-)

    get kids to use the Internet to learn and not to look at Tumblr or Facebook or some other tremendous time-waster.  Good luck.  

  •  Sub plans (0+ / 0-)

    First, let me say you are a brave person.  Substitute teaching is an under-appreciated job in the public schools.  So thank you for your service.  Using technology in the classroom can be tricky.  I don't have a blackboard in the class I teach right now (summer school) just a projector, which is fine, but sometimes i would rather have just a book, a piece of paper and a pen.  Students don't need high-tech toys to learn; they need an attention span.  And during summer school, the objective is to present the curriculum and move on; students need to take an exam after 6 weeks that covers the entire year's curriculum.  Not much time left for students to explore the net, weed through questionable info from questionable sights to determine its worthiness.  They can do that on their own time.  My experience is that allowing class time to do research on the web is a waste of class time.  They wander off to gaming sites, social media, or worse.  Webquests?  Most could care less.  

    •  Brave? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thanks for the props. When I saw "brave" I thought you were meaning it was brave to bring up this substantive concern in a context where it seems to me the controversies are more political than substantive.

      If you teach with just a book, paper, and a projector, that is fine. However, I also think schools and teachers need to move in the direction of providing students with the motivation and skills to do independent research on the net.

      Teach creative thinking. DEMONSTRATE creative thinking by showing students the wonders of the internet.

      You are right, it is about attention span. Too many distractions. I have no solution, but if I were a full-time teacher I think I would ban cell phones, a policy in place in some schools and classrooms here but "honored more in the breach than the observance."

  •  I think districts that have the money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for adequate bandwidth and devices do use technology integration.  The urban district I work in has no computer labs., no computers in the classroom. The four laptop carts are reserved for testing and test prep pretty much all year.  It makes it kind of hard to do webquests.  

    I did manage to get a hold of a laptop cart one time to do a virtual lab.  The response of students as they walked into the room was, "Are we taking a test?"  They weren't very good at figuring out the virtual lab.  They got pretty frustrated.  After all, they've never had a chance to gain experience on a computer doing anything other than click on a multiple choice answer.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 01:14:12 PM PDT

    •  My district has the resources (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You are right, in my county we have technology integration, a computer for each student in certain classrooms. But we are not using them to full advantage. We are at square 2, a long way from "Sorry!" while you are at square 1.

      Certainly our public education establishment needs more resources, and it is a big mistake to just privatize education.
      On this point we should all be solid against R's and some D's.

      You or I might feel fairly confident on the web, doing a virtual lab; we are kossacks, we've done this. I think a lot of teachers need more training support, maybe they view it as a threat but this is where the world has come.

      We need solidarity with NEA and AFT, but we also need to be substantive about what needs to change.

  •  Teachers really need time (0+ / 0-)

    and a guide, to just sit down and use the net and get a chance to build a good lesson plan that makes sense to them.

    So often technology is purchased for the sake of having technology and not to meet a specific educational purpose or plan. This is destined to fail.

    Technology is not going to save money in schools. It does let kids ask harder questions and get better answers. But, we need to actively increase funding to support networking, bandwidth, and devices.

    Every school in our nation should have broadband by now. They don't.

    Most school buildings built before 2000 (which is most of them) don't have adequate electricity to run a room full of computers. Yes, you can use laptops and batteries, but (a) you still need a place to charge them and (b) using batteries like that means you'll probably be replacing them annually, at about $100 apiece.

    If you're going to fill a room full of computers, you're also adding a lot of waste heat, which means that air conditioning becomes more essential. Many schools still lack air conditioning.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 11:00:17 AM PDT

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