As we start a new school year, I challenge all educators to do more with technology in your classroom. I wholeheartedly encourage you to use online tools that can increase your productivity, join social networks that can link you to other educators, and generally make the most of the hardware and software that is already available to you. But I mostly encourage you to do what you do best – teach students how to think critically and analyze, no matter what medium they are using to access information.
We need to realize that newer technologies are simply tools that only change the way we interact with how we already live our lives. That said, technology should not inherently change what we teach, but only how we teach.
While it is easier to dismiss new technologies that threaten to nudge us out of the ruts that we are comfortable with in teaching, the classroom is much more interesting and satisfying when we discover new paths to the same destination.
We will always have distractions in life and in the classroom. Newer technologies have only merged a wealth of useful information with every other distraction in life. The bottom line is that we have to teach how to sift through these distractions to harvest what’s useful. As I mentioned before, teachers are already good at this; we simply have newer tools.
David Wolman summarizes this idea nicely in his article “When Tech Attacks” (Wired Magazine, September 2008)
“It’s naive to think that the digital age will magically remedy stupidity. We need better schools, as well as a renowned commitment to reason and scientific rigor so that people can distinguish knowledge from garbage. The web is not an obstacle in this project. It’s an unparalleled tool for generating, finding and sharing sound information. What’s moronic is to assume that it hurts us more than it helps.”