Friday, February 12, 2016

Efficiency Is Not Always the Goal

Technology in the classroom brings about efficiency in teaching, learning and reporting on learning. Although I contend that doing anything online takes longer to do than we expect, eventually the familiarity with the tools can make that moot. It would be impossible to argue that the use of a device connected to the internet is the best way to individualize instruction and there are so many tech tools that allow students to share their learning. But, I want you to think if the goal of your classroom is efficiency.

What is the real purpose of efficiency? I think we are efficient because we want to get the most done with the least amount of effort. I can see the draw of this in our pressure packed classrooms where covering content is the key to scoring well on standardized tests. Surely we don't still need to have conversations centered around the value of teaching to the test anymore. So, if we can put aside the testing, what real value does efficiency hold for the classroom? Do we, when we choose to learn something that we are passionate about strive for efficient learning? I don't think I do. I want to wallow in my passion, follow tangents and share enthusiastically even when those who I am sharing with don't give a damn about it. Efficiency does not feed passion.

I want my students to have at least some time to learn passionately and not to worry about efficiency. I want them to share obnoxiously. I want them to wallow. Hell, I want to wallow with them.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What Is a Connected Classroom? It May Not Be What You Think

I recently attended a session at METC that had the topic of connected schools/classrooms. There was an awful lot of conversation around how teachers/admin could get information out to communities, both local and distant. In fact, I think the conversation was too focused on the sharing of information.

The real value of the internet, in fact of technology in general in the classroom, is not in sharing information or in students having digital tools. The real value is the ability students now have to connect with others outside of their local community. These connections require conversations that are two way (or more.) Posting information does not make your classroom connected. There is nothing wrong with posting information, just don't confuse that with connecting.