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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The use of "disruptive technologies" in a productive way.



Mike Muir (hat tip to Doug Belshaw) has an incredible post entitled Fear and Disruptive Technologies in which he criticizes the knee jerk reactions of many educators to ban some potentially useful technologies such as: iPods, cell phones, etc.

In this post, he recounts an interview with an 0bviously progressive IT Director at another school system, Gary Brown, here is part of the interview:

At his [Gary's] schools, about 95% of the students had cell phones. Did they ban their use? No. They purchased a system to push school announcements out to the phones. Some of the teachers use them for quizzes (kind of like the "clicker" student response systems). Now 100% of their students have cell phones. Their cell phone abuse rate? According to Gary, 0%.

We were paying $3000 fifteen years a go to have the computing power of a cell phone in our classroom and now we ban cell phones?

We're missing the boat. I don't think the applications are out there yet. We've started using meebo for reviews as they text each other questions and answers. We're using iPods to download podcasts and audiobooks from Librivox. I want to find a way to use cell phones to do virtual quizzes.

This is not even the tip of the iceburg. We're spending time fighting students when we should be working with them.

Swim with the current
As a child, my Dad took me to swim in a very big river, the Flint river. It has a very strong current. Yes, it has snakes and alligators and the like, but you're usually safe at this certain bridge at "the Sandbar."

When I was around 16, he took my sister and I there and I had to keep up the family tradition by swimming across it. (We're all good swimmers.)

Here is the trick he taught me -- He said, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME swimming against the current, it will wear you out! Let it take you a little and just try to swim towards the opposite bank. Eventually, you'll break out of the current and get there.

That is also the rule at the beach if you're caught in the rip tide -- let it take you and swim parallel to shore until you break free.
Why are we fighting this current?

I feel like we're fighting a current here.

There is a current of relevant, salient technology to these students that is not going away. I fear some administrators are going to go under fighting this one!

Why not swim with the current and use these technologies to teach the subjects we hold dear? A lot of the "coolness" of the technology rubs off on the subject we're teaching!

And I wonder why Gary Brown isn't blogging?

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