Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tech Task #10: 21st Century Teaching

Today, in the 21st Century, teachers have a lot more resources - like Google for example, than they did fifty years ago. How easy it is to interact with students through technology and how quickly it is to receive a response. Rather than sending home letters, teachers can now e-mail families or post updates in their blog that parents and students can have access to. Open to students and teachers alike is the internet: the world's fastest way of receiving information. Teachers can use the internet to learn more about their choice of topic, how to introduce the subject, creative ways of exploring it, and interact with other teachers across the world. They can create online tutorials for their students to use and post links to various websites that contain relevant information that cannot be discussed in class due to time restraints, or they may post links to sites that were discussed in class and are needed for future reference. Here are the thoughts about one educator who shares my viewpoints on internet use in schools: Michael Lipinski - The Use of Internet in Schools. Blogging is a tool more and more teachers are using, along with Wikispaces. Here, teachers can post their curriculum, classroom updates, school-wide information, homework assignments, subject information, and learning tools. It is a great and simple way to make learning accessible, since most students today have computers and internet access via cellphones, smartphones, laptops, iPods, iPads, etc. They can also access other teachers' blogs and comment on posts they find interesting or relevant to what they are teaching. Teachers are also taking advantage of social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to interact with colleagues, friends, students, parents, and people with similar interests who can give valuable information. This list contains a number of sites that teachers may find useful to connect with others:

Youtube is also becoming a widely used education tool, since educators can record themselves or something they find useful and post it on the web for all to see for free in a matter of minutes. Many educators post educational vlogs (which are basically videos of themselves talking about a topic of interest) that teachers can refer to and show to their class. Everything posted on Youtube is up for grabs, basically. One of the largest, most widely used sources of information is Wikipedia, which some teachers frown upon because it can be updated and changed by anyone in the world. However, Wikipedia holds information about... just about everything imaginable in our world. People collaborate ideas and opinions into an article that is usually truthful and insightful. Nothing on the internet is 100% fact, though, just as how anything someone tells you in person isn't 100% fact, but simply their own opinion and viewpoint.

Suddenly, teachers have all of this information available to them which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because it makes their job a lot easier since students can have access to information from people all over the world rather than relying just on your knowledge. Bad, because it also makes your job harder by having to filter out the good, useful information and the information that can ruin a child's view on something. Teacher's "digital footprints" must be monitored, meaning that anything they do on the internet can potentially be seen by their students and fellow workers that could ruin their career. However, if teachers are cautious about what they say and do inside and outside of the classroom, the internet can be a valuable source of educational information and communication.

As students, the internet is open to us to learn more. Sites such as the Khan Academy lets students learn online about various subjects like Calculus, Astronomy, and Biology with simple tutorial videos without the expensive costs of paying for a class. There is so much out there that is available nowadays that there really is no excuse to not being able to learn, find information, and gain knowledge. If the internet were available to the entire world, to every single person, don't you think the world would be brought a little closer together and we'd all be less ignorant to different viewpoints?

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