The boy and the fly

They can fly! I thought they just disappeared!

This was the reaction my son had when he saw a fly flying for the first time. I believe he was about 5 years old and had just received a good pair of glasses (previous pairs were a lower strength in the hope that his eyes would strengthen). As far as he understood flies just disappeared. They were on the table or wall and then they vanished.

I’ve shared about my son with low vision in previous posts, but I was thinking about him again in terms of perspective and realities. My son, before he had a good pair of glasses had a different reality to the rest of us. This was quite a revelation to my wife and I and it really put things in perspective for us.

This was his reality. It made sense to him because that’s what he observed. It makes you think.

It’s not the technology’s fault!

<Warning: This post is a bit of a rant…>

It is not the technology’s fault. The technology did not create cyber-criminals. Technology did not create bullies. Technology did not create pornography. Technology did not ruin education.

We live in the 21st century. It is an age of technology. We have TVs, computers, gaming consoles, PDAs, netbooks, tablets, iPads, iPods, mobile phones, smartphones, GPS, Internet, Wi-Fi and more. Yet I keep hearing from some people that technology is bad for education!

What??? Give me a break!

The technology did not just jump into an educator’s hand and say ‘use me, use me!’ The educator saw a device and chose to give it a go to help educate.

Technology is not bad for education… Poor use of technology is bad for education. Poorly designed learning tasks using technology is bad for education.

For example, you cannot just say, ‘I’m going to get my class to blog’. You need to plan it. You need to decide why you want your class to blog; what they are going to blog about; what the purpose of the task is. You then need to learn how to blog yourself. You may learn this alongside your students, but I would suggest that if you want your class to blog, then perhaps you should be blogging too. It would be good to at least know the basics of blogging first – how to set up a blog; how to write a blog post; choosing appropriate tags etc.

Keeping with the blog idea, how useful would a blog be for students who struggle to write, or perhaps cannot write using a pen/pencil? These students may thrive in front of a netbook, where they can control what is being put on the screen. They can see and edit easily without the need to mess up their work or feeling embarrassed as they need to start again.

How many jobs now require the use of technology? Computers, mobile phones etc. My guess (and it is just a guess) is probably about 95% of them. Yet we have people against using technology to educate our students?

I’ll be the first to say that technology is not the be all and end all of education. A good teacher can out-do technology any day. But I would argue that a good teacher should also now be trying to embrace technology, and encourage its use within the classroom. Teach students how to use it wisely. Demonstrate how to interact in a socially acceptable way over the internet. Help them to critically analyse information they have found to see if it is authoritative and useful.

If teachers don’t embrace technology, who is going to teach students about cyber-safety? Who will teach them to conduct themselves appropriately as well-rounded citizens of the 21st century?

Education has focused in the past on reading, writing and arithmetic. It still is now. Is this a bad thing? No. We still need students to be literate and numerate. But this is not just about pen and paper any more. It is about digital literacy. Being able to use the tools that we have to solve complex problems. We have to make sure our students are ready for this.

School leaders and Boards of Trustees need to embrace this. They need to encourage the use of technology in the classroom. It doesn’t have to be for everything! But the reality is that we live in a technological age, where more and more advanced technology is being developed daily. We have to prepare our students for life in this age!