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Julia Dimaio Strategies for Using Technology to Support Classroom Instruction Professor Eames August 11, 2011 Reflection: Technology in the Classroom I know what you are thinking. What could be less innovative, less forward- thinking than writing a paper about technology. A paper is about as low as technology can go since it has been used for centuries. Galileo, Marco Polo even Mark the Gospel writer wrote papers. How predictable! How boring! Actually, this is exactly why I am writing a paper about technology. Great minds have been utilizing the written word to explain and validate new, at times scary, ideas and it has worked. Galileo was writing about the new technology of gravitational pulls and celestial rotations and while he was persecuted for it, at least powerful people were reading it. Marco Polo brought the inventions of the East back to Europe in his diary. Had there been a bestseller list, Marco Polo would have topped the charts for years. Even Stephan Hawking has put his ideas down into a few condensed books. The point is, you can have as many flashy presentations about the most mind-blowing concepts that you want, but people, especially powerful people will only take you seriously after it has been put down on paper. As educators, were coming into contact with some of the most powerful people on earth every day; our students, the future. Yes, one day these children will be running the world while we watch from our aging 3D flatscreens. I’d say that pretty much makes them the most powerful people you could ever meet. So, we 2 better hustle on making them the best world citizens that we possibly can. This means reading, writing, mathematical, critical thinking, problem solving and, of course, tech savvy skills must all be taught before they leave our doors. These skills are all equal, which means for the first time in history learning how to use new technology is just as important as learning how to read. This is a pretty staggering thought. Not only do our students have to learn all the history, science, math and literature that students have been learning for years, now they have another subject as well. That pesky new subject is also the one that is growing and changing more rapidly than any other the other subjects combined. Whew, we sure have our work cut out for us. Fortunately for students and teachers alike, there has been a movement to bring the subject of technology into the classroom, instead of leaving it confined to the walls of the humming computer lab. This means Google, Twitter, web animations, online tours and research caching websites like Diigo will forever change the landscape of the classroom. Instead of students acting out a skit, they can make an animated clip from GoAnimate! Instead of presenting their knowledge on a yawn-inducing PowerPoint, students can open eyes with a Prezi. Quick summaries can be tweeted to #TheirAwesomeTeacher. Google scholar will help them locate the information that they need and Diigo will bookmark it so they will be sure not to forget it. SMARTboards allow them to interact with material at the front of the class and Google Earth will show them just what Europe looks like. All of this can be done, by the way, on the wireless tablet that is perched on their desk. 3 Yes, technology has forever changed our classrooms, probably for the better as they offer more engaging opportunities and higher-level problem solving skills. However, is it changing the workplace in the same way? Sure, doctors are using iPad apps to view CT scans and lawyers are never seen without their BlackBerry at hand. However, patient histories are not made up of animated clips and law memos are not Google Earth tours of the crime scene. Congress is not writing new laws on Prezi and CEOs are not using the Promethean magic revealer to unveil this quarter’s numbers. The fact of the matter is that the written word is and will continue to be invaluable in the working world. Are pen and paper necessary? Probably not. But our students will need to know how to write (on their MacBook Air) an effective argument to become a lawyer, they will have to know how to manipulate numbers (in Excel) in order to be an accountant, they will have to know how to spell Orthopedics (on their iPhone) to be a surgeon and will have to know how to analyze historic documents (on their Kindle) in order to be an effective politician. So, old school meet new school. The mechanics of writing can be taught on the SMARTboard, but they need to be taught. Bring on the Excel spreadsheets and graphing calculators but students must realize that 2+2 = 4 not 5! as their cell is telling them. This is an exciting time for education as the valuable dusty history texts meet the equally valuable shiny Sony Vaio PC. As educators we need to understand that technology is a series of new ways to present the material that has always made students successful. 4 I am convinced, more than ever after taking this class, that technology, in all forms, should absolutely be embraced in the classroom as an enhancement, not a watering down, of our students’ knowledge. We will mold them into the powerful people they will become by teaching the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) along with the GEMs (Google applications, email attachments and Microsoft Office). Forming a sentence in a paper, like this one, is just as important as formatting it correctly in Microsoft Word on your MacBook Pro, like this one.
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