Feb 1 was Digital Learning Day. How many of us knew that? Exactly what was this day all about anyway? Out to lunch Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced, celebrated, and proclaimed Feb 1, 2012 Digital Learning Day. Does this mean that this administration has finally got it about technology? All they need do is do some homework and see what was happening when Riley was Secretary of Education. This is embarrassing and insulting to educators. But that has always been Duncan’s MO. This is just another shot in the dark kind of educational incentive clueless leaders proclaim, like his other forgetful programs such as Race to the Top.
Further reading of this block buster event finds schools in Modesto using technology to take attendance. They finally recognize that the web will expand the four walls of the classroom, but they have yet to think outside that box because they still have filters, which is up for discussion (nice concession), and they still have the traditional walled classrooms. So much for the celebratory Digital Learning Day epiphanies. The celebration is over moderated Facebook pages. Is this what we have come to celebrate as technology in the classroom. In the 90’s our scholars were constructing webpages using Flash. We have not used the lessons of the past to inform our present, forget about our future. This is what we get when we elect inexperienced people who appoint even less experienced people to an important position like Secretary of Education. The feds should get out of education because they don’t have a clue. This is not just in Washington, it is happening in NYC, too. That’s trickle down for you.
This is today’s vision from our current Department of Education in Washington DC.
Use the buzzwords and explain how the current trends in society are being transferred to the classroom and you will get someone’s attention. For instance: “Social media isn’t just a social activity anymore. Local schools and colleges are now not only instructing students on how to use it safely and responsibly, but using it as a teaching tool as well.” This article goes on to explain how a middle school has adapted a program called Bravebook that will simulate a social network that the students will explore and use without it being public for all. It is a training ground, a practice field so that the school can responsibly teach the students about ethics and correct use so that when they leave the school the hope is they will transfer these skills to the real world.
In another scenario, Twitter became an important tool for an infirmed professor to communicate with her class. I remember when we used programs like Blackboard to conduct class. Now we celebrate Twitter, Yikes!
Certainly one of the obstacles to correct and effective use of technology use in the classroom has been the filter, so bravo Chicago for lifting the ban on YouTube. YouTube clips have been vital for me in my instruction and I have had to use Zamzar to convert a YouTube video to a file I could then embed in my lessons. We all know multimedia presentations by the teacher and by the student are far superior to the mundane and droll word processed paper.
Hearing something we already know from a leaned colleague at an important conference helps make the point. So when an esteem journal pronounces, based on research, that that students want more from the technology in education, we should listen. “According to Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans, "Today's students have their own 'student vision' for how they want to use technology for learning. That vision," she said, "is really a statement of how students want to learn in general." From the points made in this speech we only need to look to YouTube to see the kinds of things students are doing from reviewing movies to commenting on events around the world. The students already use these tools, it is now our responsibility to provide them with educational opportunities in the classroom to broaden their expertise. We see the students using their web based hand held tools to access the web in class, in the street, at home and yet we have provided too little access in school and way too few classes that actually use the web to instruct and inform our young scholars.
And finally a gem about writing a 25 word story. Yikes has this become our limit? I appreciate the idea, but it is lame. That is why we have poetry, especially the haiku. A short story needs more than 25 words. This 25 word ditty would be great after the colon that follows the title of a short story or novella, but surely can’t be the final product.
The ideas about education and the use of technology has been compromised by the nano second conversation, the 125 word tweet, the flash of Facebook and the limited vision of a secretary of education. Our scholars need more, our teachers should be given control back to them, and our nation deserves a lot better than what we have seen from this current lame, leaderless Department of Education. Maybe it is time the feds think outside the box and fire the Secretary of Education because he just keeps on flunking.