Recently, a German friend asked me to speak to his class of German elementary school teachers-in-training about using computers in their classrooms. I worked with teachers extensively in the 1980s and early 90s but have been focused on history for several years. Computing has changed a lot in 3-odd decades. Are my messages still relevant?
The most obvious change in ed tech is that I didn’t have to go to Germany to be a guest speaker. We used Skype to make me a larger-than-life screen presence – a live “talking head” with slides. A more subtle issue is whether, in today’s world of smart phones, MOOCs and You-tube videos, classroom teachers face the same challenges we struggled with in the past. I anxiously prepared my visuals, hoping that my comments would resonate with a room-full of millennials.
In my next several blogs I’ll share the narrative content of this presentation as well as the visuals and perhaps expand some of the ideas. The slide deck I used is available here and I’ll select from it to illustrate the blogs. I hope you will let me know through your comments whether my thoughts are useful to you and where you think I’ve missed the boat.
Here are a few preliminary comments about the slides.
Slide 3: Let’s talk about
This is the overview of the presentation. I always like to understand the participants in a seminar so I start by exploring their thinking. The event as originally given, online and in a foreign language from the students’ point of view, did not elicit the lively discussion I had hoped for. I would very much like to hear from you as you view this presentation asynchronously. I do not have pat answers to the questions posed and the topics are worthy of slow pondering. Take your time with them and let’s use this social media platform to share our ideas and responses.
Slides 5, 6, 7: Questions
Most of us use our own learning process as a standard to inform the way we teach. These questions are intended to help bring personal learning to a conscious level. By being aware of our own learning we can harness our self-model to benefit those of our pupils who think and learn as we do. This awareness will also free us to adapt new models to help us reach students’ whose minds follow paths different from our own.
Slides 8, 9, 10, 11: 21st Century Skills
Actually I don’t think the skills mentioned are new in any way. Humans have needed them throughout their existence. The “21st century” label is just a way to highlight how essential they are. The questions offered in this section are my suggestions for teachers to pose to their students as ways to exercise these skills.
Slides 12, 13, 14: Beyond Screens
It’s easy to view ed tech as an alternative to teachers giving lectures, but there is so much more we can do with it. This section provides some hints for activities that don’t require each pupil to have a separate screen and keyboard.
Slides 15, 16, 17: Transferring learning from games
Not all students spontaneously transfer what they learn in one context to another. These slides set the stage for discussing how teachers can use simple games (Tic Tac Toe, for example) and complex computer applications (Mindcraft) to acquire skills they can use beyond the game setting.
Slide 18: References
I’ve included links to other web sites throughout the slide deck. Don’t forget to click on them. This last slide offers several more sites I thought might enrich your teaching practice. Please let us all know which ones you found useful and add other personal favorites the rest of us may not have discovered yet.