In this piece on Edutopia, Betty Ray introduces us to Douglas Rushkoff’s book Present Shock through an interview with him on the state of technology and education. As Ray writes, Rushkoff “turns his lens to the human experience in a world that’s always on, always connected, always in the now, now, now.”
Ray asks Rushkoff, “How did digital technology “break” this narrative?” Rushkoff answers, “Well, initially, it was the remote control… We can pause, go back and forward. The storyteller no longer calls all the shots.” This is an interesting perspective, one that challenges traditional notions of narrative by acknowledging the agency of the audience in the construction and reception of the message.
Neither Ray nor Rushkoff understand this breaking of narrative as a bad thing, more as a new understanding for considering how students construct meaning. Rushkoff says, “They are no longer required to submit to the official story in order to get the information they want.” In other words, digital technology’s capacity to break the narrative creates new paths to knowledge for students.
For more from Rushkoff, check out his appearance on The Colbert Report.
Recently, we discussed the idea of using new technology to its full potential in the classroom. The way we learn, or even the way we teach, has been evolving, especially in these last couple of years. Now, we learned of a new study at the University of Oklahoma (OU) about how well students learn when reading from comics-format material for non-fiction and textbooks.
In the study, 140 graduate students were separated into two groups: the first received their information via traditional textbook, and the second through a graphic novel that covered the same material. Research showed that both groups understood the concepts of the text equally, but the comics group had much better verbatim recall. The creator of this study who is the strategic management chair of OU’s Price College of Business, Jeremy Short, said, “My experiences suggests that graphic story telling can serve as a powerful tool in higher education compared to the traditional textbook.”
This seems like an especially relevant topic for higher education. For years, students have been taught by pictures in books, overhead images, computer screen projectors, and chalkboards. Now, we are developing technology that allows ebooks to have videos and interactive images. Teaching by graphic novel seems like the next natural step along this line of visual learning.
You might not think knowing entrepreneurial skills could help educators become better, but some might beg to differ. SmartBlogs recently released “6 Entrepreneurial Skills That Can Make Us Better Educators” to help educators apply these skills to become better at what they do best: educate.
One skill that is important and useful for everyone: “Develop relationships with mentors with different kinds of expertise.” Essentially, network with everyone and anyone.
“Entrepreneurs find mentors at different stages of their careers and in different fields.” It doesn’t matter what stage you’re in, you can always benefit from meeting and keeping in touch with new people that can help give you advice and new perspectives.
We talk a lot about technology in the classroom, but what about the classroom in technology? Professor Elliot Soloway at the University of Michigan and Professor Chris Dede at Harvard discuss how to transition a lesson plan into the digital age.
Image via Flickr
“I’ve never seen technology moving faster than mobile learning,” said Dede, who teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Between developing applications and having answers at the touch of a finger through the internet, kids are learning in a faster-paced environment than ever before. Teaching pedagogies need to adapt with this shift as well; for example, they discuss how using flash cards, staples of older lesson plans, for an iPad is a waste.
“We are not exploiting the affordances of the new technology to give kids new kinds of learn-by-doing activities,” says Soloway. Using tools like tablets in the classroom are viewed as something kids can do when they’re done with their actual class work. Shelly Pasnik, director of the Center for Children and Technology counteracts this idea.
“When it’s really integrated into a sequence of activities, kids are moving between screens given what’s developmentally appropriate, they’re playing games. Some experiences use screens, then manipulatives or other materials, they’re engaged in conversations with peers and adults in the room. That’s where it works,” says Pasnik.
Resources like iPads, tablets, and laptops have the ability to make learning a multimedia, engaging, and interactive experience, but only if they are integrated into a new teaching style.
Writing, like many things, can be very difficult at times. Everyone has those moments where we seek for inspiration, guidance, something to help us move forward with our words. The Academy of Achievement (a non-profit based out of Washington, D.C.) has stepped up and created an insanely cool resource, “Creative Writing: A Master Class.”
Image via rottontomatoes.com
Here, you can find a series of talks from poets and writers alike, archived through iTunes. Discussions by Toni Morrison, Nora Ephron, and Norman Mailer are just a few of the speakers featured through this free program. Talks vary from Pulitzer Prize winners, to poet laureates, to perhaps your favorite author. Read more about this new type of class here.
Image via NYTimes
What if students didn’t start school until they were 7 years old? How would society change if teachers were as revered as doctors and lawyers? If you live in Finland, these changes are a reality. As of 40 years ago, this country’s educational system was entirely reorganized, and these are but a few of the different ideas that have been incorporated. What is even more interesting to note is that since this reform was implemented, Finnish students have consistently been at the top of international rankings.
Read the full article here to discover the other unique parts to their educational system.
Vonnegut, via www.vonnegut.com
The most telling sign that marks a life-changing educator is when his/her students still remember their professor years after the class ends. Suzanne McConnell was a student of Kurt Vonnegut’s in 1965, and was so profoundly impacted by his teaching style that she held onto one of his assignments all these decades.
McConnell recalls that he “wrote his course assignments in the form of letters, as a way of speaking personally to each member of the class.” This one in particular was for a term paper in their “Form of Fiction” course.
In describing his requirements, Vonnegut stated, “I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delighted, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who offend your own deep notions of what the Universe is or should be.” What is important about education, then, is to help guide students’ ability to be aware of the world and the part they play in it. The professor’s role is about presenting details of life, and then teaching students how to ask questions, and to make their own conclusions.
An additional part to his assignment was for his students to give a letter grade to the short stories read in class. “The grades should be childishly selfish and impudent measures of your own joy or lack of it,” Vonnegut wrote. “I don’t care what grades you give. I do insist that you like some stories better than others.”
And this is the key to this teaching philosophy: it’s not the letter grade that ultimately matters, but rather the opinions—and the knowledge of how to intelligently form them—that carries students throughout their lives. The professors who teach in this manner are the ones who will not be forgotten.
In this modern world, education and technology are combining in an innovative and wonderful way. Technology can help students learn, and help teachers teach. But what if you don’t know how to best use the technology at hand? What if you don’t know how to talk about what it is you’re trying to teach?
Whether you are a teacher or a student, this article from Ed Tech Magazine will help you identify and learn 24 “buzzwords” that deal with the combination of education and technology. This list has every term from adaptive learning (software that adapts its content and pacing to the current knowledge level of the user) to gamification (using game design and mechanics to drive motivation and increase engagement in learning) to virtual learning environment (an educational system online that mimics real world education).
Are you familiar with all the important buzzwords on this list? Test yourself, test your colleagues, test your students. Any way you can, use this list to teach, learn, and communicate to the best of your ability.