Friday, April 24, 2009

It's Not Either/ Or

Recently I had a correspondence with a teacher whom I like and respect. We were discussing voicethread and the potential to share digital media with a global audience. Her response surprised me a little. "I don't see the appeal." My answer was something along the lines that it was the excitement that students feel when engaging in a broader audience outside the classroom. She replied (in what I read as a joking tone) was that she'd be more excited if the kids knew more basic math skills.

From what I know she is a very good teacher, and I don't think her feelings were that off base for teachers who, especially this time of the year, feel pressured by end-of-grade tests and all the expectations associated with preparing her students for next year. But I think many teachers might be missing the chance to do both--engage and excite their students with using technology to communicate with a global audience AND teach the math skills students need to know. In the reply I sent her a voicethread done by Ms. Edwards' class on math skills to show voicethread as a vehicle for student to learn math skills, and I pointed out it doesn't have to be either/or.

So as is the case with so much technology, it's not about voicethread but what voicethread can do for the instruction. Too often technology is seen as a separate piece or class instead of an actual tool to use in all classes. Technology alone will not raise EOG scores or produce better students. But I firmly believe in the hands of an effective teacher, technology can go a long way to engage students in the lessons and even make teaching easier.

1 comment:

  1. I can't tell you the number of times I hear refrains similar to the one you describe. NCLB, administrative lock-down of Internet resources (such as voicethread, I'm betting, in a lot of districts), and just plain old lack of time are offered as reasons (excuses?) for not using some of this engaging technology.

    I agree with you and think we need to find ways to lower the perceived barriers for our teachers, not just at the K-12 level, but in post-secondary also, where the ramifications are extended.

    Thanks for some good thinking material.