He stated: “We have had computers in schools for 30 years – why are we still dragging teachers in?” After posing this question, he outlined three ways that he sees how computers are used in education today and the authors of those viewpoints.
Alfred Bork – The System view: “Teachers are stupid and the job they do is scripted. Computers can replace teachers with drill and practice and as dispensers of knowledge.”
Tom Snyder – The Teacher view: “The classroom is a theatre and the teacher the director. Computers empower these teachers, as it is they who are in control.”
Seymour Papert – The Learner view: “Computers are for learners, it is the learner who has control over the device.”
Who has control of these devices in your school?
In a nutshell Gary reasoned that computers are a tool that should be used with the learner at the centre. It is the learner who should be constructing things and using it to solve problems. He was quick to point out however, that a student centred classroom will always have the learner at its centre, with or without technology.
This started me thinking. What could I do? What changes could I make in my classroom? Before I’d even left the breakfast I was planning.
Gary again – “We need the students to be at the centre of the process, producing, not consuming. We need them to be engaged in work which has the potential for originality. Only by doing that will they be making memories. It is the memories that will stand the test of time.”
So, once the dreaded NAPLAN season is over, I am going to hold a ‘project day’, or maybe a ‘problem solving day’, the name is not quite clear yet. On that day I will pose a variety of problems and then provide the materials to solve those problems. In order to link this somehow to my program, I will have to think of problems that are relevant to Antarctica or the early exploration of gold. How do we build a bridge that allows the penguins to escape the ice-chasm or something along those lines.
The point though, and where the technology will come in to this, is when a student uses a camera to document their thinking, that thinking becomes visible. We need to give them a problem, that is solvable. It is no good asking them to save the world they are too young for that. Let them create, make and do, to solve the problem. Gary showed wonderful examples using lego robotics, sadly I don’t have access to lego robotics, but I do have recycle bins. As they film themselves talking about how they solved the problems, they are documenting their thinking thus making it visible for reflection and questioning.
Gary – “We need to focus on less in order for them to end up learning more.”
I am at #ACEC2010. I am a teacher and a learner. I am inspired already. Oh and the cocktail food was pretty good too!