Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"What's nice is only THEY can see each other's posts."

Scenario 1:
A teacher assigns a paper, maybe for a grade, that is an essay statement. Maybe it's a piece of creative writing. On the due date the students turn it into the teacher on a piece of 8.5 x 11" paper as it came off the printer. The teacher reads it, secretly grades it, and tacks it up on the wall for the students to see. Nobody else sees it. Students await next assignment.

Scenario 2:
A teacher assigns a blog post to be entered on the school's own blog server. On the due date the students type their posts. Since the blog server is not visible outside the school network, nobody else can see it. Only the students can view each other's posts. The teacher secretly grades them. Students await next assignment.

Is there a difference? Yes, the one uses a different tool, a blog vs a printer, but is there a difference to the student? Maybe some - for a while.

But, watch this video and THEN ask yourself the same question: Is there a difference?

Of course there is. Don't be fooled by the fact that someone is saying that the students are, "blogging." They're bloging only in the sense that they're using a blogging TOOL. But, hammering nails into a 2x4 isn't building a house, even though you're using the tool.

I want to know WHO is making the decision that this is acceptable. Rather, who is saying that having REAL blogs is NOT acceptable. As I've said before, (in 2006, for crying out loud!) this is very much like having the kids drive a stock car in the parking lot and calling it racing. COME ON!! WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS FEAR-DISABLED THINKING ANY MORE! WHEN WILL REAL CHANGE HAPPEN IN OUR SCHOOLS?

Recently, a teacher said that their HIGH SCHOOL geometry teacher had kids take pictures of "real world shapes" and they made some sort of animation out of them. THIS is HIGH SCHOOL Geometry? ARGHHHHH! Second graders do this stuff! Why not use something like: if you want "real world" activities. Something that is WORTHY of a 17 yr old student. Oh... that's right.. Google Earth is blocked in school, too.

When will someone step up and say, "This is no longer acceptable!" It's malpractice! Come on, Curriculum Directors. Find out what is going on in your classrooms and what COULD be going on and start demanding REAL changes. The world is passing you by!


Ken Rodoff said...

Okay, I'll say something...

There is a difference between writing scenario one (using the printer) and two (a secure blogging platform).

What if, just for giggles, you imagine a teacher who has taught the exact same way for years? Now, imagine that her stumbling block when it comes to blogging is security/visibility. It's possible to imagine, right?

This teacher has only done in-class, keep it all in the room sort of assignments. Hanging posters in the hallway represent a huge leap for her.

The discussion about why this woman is still teaching / allowed to teach is for another day.

So I hear her lamenting about student enjoyment of a particular reading. As coach, I foster a conversation which leads to a meeting which leads to a talk about blogs.

Security, she says. Visibility, she says.

Fine, I say. Let's look at a site like 21classes. Blogs are secure. You can assign permissions for the students. You can moderate posts and comments.

Okay, keep going, she says.

You and the kids can practice using the tool with confidence that no one will look like the idiot child of global citizenship, I say.

You and the kids can learn how to present in public before just jumping out in the middle of the street and exposing yourself, I say.

Of course, blogging is meant to be shared, globally. Of course, it is a window to learning, understanding, communicating, and a lot of other yummy stuff. I think this, but this teacher, this harbinger of antiquated pedagogy, is actually saying yes. So I don't tell her these things.

And her students use blogging. She is using blogging. She actually is doing something new. Her students are more engaged.

But next year, oh, next year.

People all around the globe just might find themselves subscribing to those blogs.

Because those kids and that teacher will have practiced how to conduct and present themselves in an on-line environment.

Jim Gates said...

How about this post? :-)