Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Short circuits in the e-classroom

First day of Infocomm Tech in Education course. Thought I'd be excited about all the new stuff I'd be getting my hands on (free, public domain web-based productivity and info-sharing tools, btw, not commercial samples or taxpayer purchased software suites), but for today's sampling I'm completely underwhelmed.

Not that the tools aren't fun to use and useful to play with in the classroom, but I'm approaching this whole thing with a lot more caution now. Just because there is a tool doesn't necessarily mean there is a use for it.

Most of the apps we tried out were rather like chat boards that collated the audience's typed comments 'live' while a talk or lesson was going on, cork board backgrounds for students to 'pin' comments and reflections on and see others' at the same time, collaborative graphic organizers that assist group knowledge construction, and many activities primarily guided by Google Forms, which will definitely save money Xeroxing worksheets, while aggregating all responses into a handy document, again for all to see.

The apps were all colourful and relatively easy-to-use, but I'm not convinced that they offer my students the opportunity to explore ideas in depth like they need to. Many of these apps will only accept short off-the-cuff shoutouts, so expression is terse, abrupt and may encourage L337speak as the lingua franca of classroom chat *growls

Besides, when I picture my kids trying to sit through a lesson using these tools, I foresee a very long day ahead. You'd think, like I once did, that the kids would be eating out of my hand if they got some 'computer time'. But, oddly enough, unlike their predecessors of, say the '03 batch, my current kids are comparative Luddites. I can only guess that they qualified for JC by studying from textBOOKS and working through assessment BOOKS. Hence, they still trust in BOOKS, and pen-and-paper exercises. Electronic media -- including the Internet -- are merely channels from which they absorb entertainment (not information and certainly not knowledge), and they have not yet discovered that creating is as rewarding (if not moreso) as downloading; funny cat videos notwithstanding.

So, my problem for today is quite unique for someone tasked with what I have been tasked. My biggest obstacle to creating ICT-based lessons is not staff buy-in, not infrastructure support, not skills or training deficiencies, but in convincing my students that they stand to learn more from the networked computer than from their scrolls and quills. In that, I wonder, between us who really is the smarter?


masterofboots said...

maybe they are the sensible ones

Min Seah said...

you're not helping... but i do believe you're right.