I have had great difficulty gathering my thoughts for this topic as it is the area that I need to do the most work as a teacher. I have not brushed up on my technological skills to keep up with what I teach. Since the last two years, I have concentrated mostly on switching to a C3 curriculum in Social Studies that emphasizes critical thinking and student inquiry.
A Point of Difference
I also have an issue with using digital technology as an end product as I find that students are also losing the ability to ‘make’ anything. They are using the ability to wield any tools or to use their hands, manipulate shapes and put things together. Therefore, any activity that allows them to use digital technology to actually ‘make’ something be it: a brioche cake (for the French Revolution Project), or a strategy board game between Tolstoy and Lenin for the Russian Revolution. These are some examples of student projects to showcase their interests and talents.
Question to Ponder
I am divided between the ability of students to be tech savvy but not know anything about how to put things together be it a model of modernization of life in Irtibat (a village in Tunisia) after the Arab Spring. Or a clay model project for the ‘Human Rights’ unit to show human rights abuses in Sri Lanka under the Security and Anti Terrorism law passed in 1979.
The above is a Strategy Board Game Between Lenin and Tolstoy – as a summative project for the Russian Revolution.
The enthusiasm of students when identifying their passions and working with their hands after the research that they do opened my eyes to the possibility of having students work with their hands which they are not used to doing. It does not mean that they should not utilize digital technology as they will not survive in the future without it but it needs to go hand in hand with their ability to work with their hands.
I completed all the readings and watched all the videos for this week before coming to the above conclusion. Mimi Ito’s video, talk and writing on ‘Connected learning’ convinced me to try to play the XBox with my boys to understand the skills they are using and get a feel of what draws them in! It also showed me that the ability to make something may be a step towards getting students mobilized to take action in the bigger world.
I also used Cofino’s suggested lesson on our digital footprint as students googled their own names to find out about themselves on the internet. It got them thinking when a student found out that her instagram account was private but all the people she followed were available for everyone to see when she googled her name! So thank you Kim Cofino.
In conclusion, there is great value in having our students use digital technology but the greatest value in when it also forces students to use their mind critically and take action or learn how they can take action as future active members of society.