The iSchool Initiative
It's both amazing and inspiring to me that a 17 year old high school student could identify so many critical issues within the education system. Budget cuts, fewer teachers, and larger classroom sizes are an unfortunate reality in all school districts across the United States. Travis Allen certainly appears to be on the cusp of revolutionizing education in classrooms. There are definite advantages to Travis' proposal the iSchool Initiative. While some textbooks may become outdated, current information on the web is only a click away. Apps like calendars, calculators, homework, and checking out books are just a few examples which can actively assist students, teachers, and parents. It is imperative that students become technology literate and proficient, as most all jobs require these skills.
While I agree with all of the points that Travis addressed and would like to be a teacher who supports his initiative, I do have some concerns. I asked my daughter if her school uses apps to teach or supplement lessons. She replied, "We are lucky to have a Smart Board in each room. Our school has a computer lab, but they are so old that half of them don't work most of the time." She went on to tell me that when they do use the computer lab, the programs used are Word, Star Reader (used for Literature and Math testing), and internet access for research. While the iSchool Initiative will save schools and parents money in the long run, how will the schools be able to afford the conversion process if they cannot even afford to maintain the outdated computers they already own?
We would like to think that most students are responsible and respect school property. However, we know that this is not always the case. Even with responsible students, accidents can happen. Is there an insurance program that schools will be able to afford in order to repair and replace any technology instruments which become damaged or broken? Will the schools be able to afford a "back-up stock pile" to replace the devices which are not usable so that no student is without the tools they need to participate? Will schools be able to afford a technology support employee who can address these issues in a timely manner, or will they have to put in a work order and wait who knows how long to have the repairs or replacements addressed?
I don't mean to be a "Negative Nelly". I am only trying to approach what I think is truly a wonderful idea with a realistic point-of-view. In order to take these possible changes seriously, it is important to consider all of the questions that I raised. Imagine being a teacher in a classroom with 6 students unable to use their device. What then? Computers are great when they work, and we all know that issues come up from time to time. I would like to see Travis' vision become a reality, but I believe that books, paper, and pencil should still be a part of learning; even if they are used as a back-up plan.
It's extraordinary that we are now able to virtually bring so many people together from different parts of the world and create something so beautiful. I'm glad that Jennifer Chamber shared Eric Whitacre's virtual choir. This is an example of an exquisite creation of technology.
As a teacher, it is not my responsibility to entertain my students, but keep them engaged in the learning process. Kevin Roberts obviously believes that this can be accomplished by implementing technological tools such as blogs, twitter, and podcasts. Integrating these suggestions into 21st century classrooms will keep students actively engaged while retaining what they have learned. This is a concept which I have already learned in EDM 310 through assignments and other videos. However, Mr. Roberts gave many good points to solidify this claim.
Students have always been taught the consequences of plagiarism. It is also import for them to learn that this applies to lessons involving technology as well. It is the teacher's responsibility to teach students the necessary steps to tag pictures, link to websites, and use proper quoting in order to ethically cite sources. I don't see this as something new or additional I will have to do as a teacher, but a concept which already exists that will be expanded upon.
Flipping the Classroom
I absolutely L-O-V-E the concept of Flipping the Classroom! By posting a recording of lesson demonstration on your blog, say a week in advance, students have the opportunity to hear and see the information before it is presented in class. This can also be an enormous benefit to students who do not comprehend a topic and need additional help. Many times, parents are unable to assist their children with assignments. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to help my daughter, only to hear her say "That's not how the teacher told us to do it Mom!". Now, parents can understand the concept and process taught by the teacher.
This is also a remarkable idea because it allows students who may be on a lower level of understanding to enter the classroom with confidence on an even playing field. Some concepts are more difficult than others to grasp and this allows those students who need more explanation to receive it. Videos also benefit the students who are absent. This is a point that Joe Dale addressed in his video "Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom." I also love the fact that watching assigned videos puts some of the responsibility of learning on the students.
During this semester of EDM310, I have been exposed to some teaching techniques that I thought were o.k., some that were rather creative, some I may possibly use, and some that I will definitely use. Flipping my classroom is something I KNOW I WILL USE!! I have already bookmarked the Friday Institute website!