Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Piloting Your Own Plane

"Students must be encouraged to become 'pilots',
not 'passengers' in their educational journey."
~Kevin Kearney

Look, let's be clear; I don't have all the answers. And as I continue down this road with Megan and her wonderfully curious, always brilliant students, some thoughts are beginning to crystallize; but as so often happens in life, these thoughts are followed by more questions.

Take for instance this thought:

Wow, put these iTouches in the hands of kids and they have almost instantaneous access to information. That's what we want. Information is no longer locked away in a library. It was so unbelievably cool to watch those children explore the weather app and Google Maps and the clock feature. They were fascinated by the ability to use their geography skills to locate the most recent weather report for a specific location and they found their homes using Google Earth. One student said he woke up that morning excited because they were going to use the iTouches. Very cool.

Later, much later, though, little thoughts started niggling at my brain. What do we want our children to be doing in a 21st Century classroom? How can we be sure that they're learning something they couldn't learn without the technology? Are they merely consuming information or does the technology allow them to produce content? Are they engaging in authentic tasks that mirror real life situations? Because that's what a 21st Century classroom should look like...at least to me.

So, I think...I think... that the answer to whether or not the iTouch is the right tool needs to be observed from this lens. And just in case I start running out of questions (doubtful), here are some others to help keep me grounded in what is most important:

~Does this tool promote deeper learning?
~Is it worth the money?
~Is there another tool that will help students learn better?
~What exactly changes when the students have access to these tools?

Yep, I definitely don't have all the answers. But I do know one thing for sure; as we explore this uncharted territory, we must never lose sight of who should own the learning. In doing so, in making them pilots instead of passengers as Kevin Kearney so eloquently stated, we will better prepare them for a future not yet articulated...not yet known.

Monday, February 1, 2010