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Saturday, May 19, 2007

If you're online you should be at the Free Online Conference: Webhead Convergence




All educators who are online and have a moment, should take advantage of the incredible resource put on by the "WebHeads" -- this group of people has worked very hard to bring us an incredible K-20 conference for educators.

The CURRENT event can be seen at the bottom of http://www.webheadsinaction.org/.

You'll see more training that you can get at a real conference and you don't even have to get dressed. It runs through tomorrow!

I spent some time learning from George Siemens this morning and particularly liked this graphic.

He made a couple of important points that I put in my notes:

We have:
  • Content
  • Conversations
  • Connections
He says that often the connections we make are of more significant future value than the content or conversations themselves that are currently transpiring.

The School in Liverpool that Eliminated Laptops Because the Results didn't show


He also talked about what a poor job that many of us who see and are realizing the value of technology are doing. He cited a school in Liverpool that eliminated laptops after finding no improvement in academic achievement. Well, that got me going, so I'm going to quote my thoughts on technology in the classroom right here:

Me: Well, let's eliminate paper -- if a study was done on toilet paper it would show no academic value but if we studied a history book it might have more.

Me: The paper can be used for multiple purposes -- likewise laptop's value is in the use.

Me: Laptops won’t make a kid smarter any more than if Einstein rubbed a kid’s head.


It is about How We use laptops!


It is about HOW we use laptops not the FACT that we have laptops. Too many parents brag "Oh, we have a laptop school" and guess what, those shiny new laptops have their microprocessors gathering dust as they sit in some storage bin at the end of the hall. HAVING is not the operative term here USING is.

In fact, we don't have a laptop campus and perhaps get more use out of our workstations than many schools who do have laptops. Laptops can take you further but they can also be a distraction if they have no purpose.

What would you do if Einstein was in your room?

The simplistic thought of HAVING laptops making kids smarter, that somehow touching the keys imparts an extra 10 points to their IQ is preposterous. It is about effectively USING the laptops. After all, if we had Einstein in our classrooms, would we just want the kids to sit there and look at him and have him rub their little noggins or would we let them ASK questions (Google his brain), talk to him, take notes, video him, record him? We would have everything possible to allow the interactions.

What if a researcher studied the wrong kind of paper?

I could envision this report.

"We have studied the efficacy of paper in schools. It is often thrown on the floor and usually flushed down the toilets. It is wrapped around trees. But it's most common use by students is that they put disgusting, smelly, slimy bodily excretions of all kind on them. This practice has to stop! We cannot allow such waste. We have studied and found that this paper causes no improvement in academic performance and therefore we show no correlation between paper and academic performance."
I could see well meaning educators basing everything upon this one report and removing all paper. When it is obvious that this study was done on toilet paper! Can we not see that one cannot study the efficacy of "laptops" any more than the efficacy of "paper" -- it is the pedagogy, folks not the item. Do we study pencils, pens, paper, libraries, classrooms? No, we study

We have to take into account the context and pedagogical use of the laptops!

The Right Thing means the Right Way

If we are going to do the right thing, we need to advocate doing it in the right way. Laptops in a school with no plan to use the laptops correctly is a recipe for failure, it is not progress but rather the illusion of progress.

However, any tool used correctly makes a good teacher better.

Add your voice for effective education using technology.

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