Saturday, March 29, 2014

Education and the Computer Age

Education is taking a beating. Teens are turning away from education in droves. They feel the educational system is out of touch with the reality of their lives. And they would be correct. When technology has such a strong hold on individuals and the home why have schools continued to maintain a strong link with paper and pencil routines while paying lip service, at best, to technology? Why are courses taught in old didactic ways when the students are using technology in growing numbers? We can blame a lot of things but what it boils down to is the inability of the educational system to adapt to change. Students have the technology yet are forced to endure endless explorations of drivel. It reminds me of the Harry Potter scene where Delores Umbridge makes her epic statements about education. We should not change for the sake of change. The old ways have served us for centuries.  The same is true in the world today.

Education cannot change because the people in charge of education do not understand the new world order. They do not understand that all knowledge is on line waiting for us to find it, with examples far better than any teacher can provide in a classroom. They stand behind privacy and safety when everyday those same students are out there exploring the world without educational authorities. What do they think the students are going to do, start giving up educational secrets?  While there is an embracing of the bring your own technology to school movement, some boards are playing censorship on the tools and technology that can be used to teach.  The other day I received an email from the tech department stating that “Internet Explorer is the only authorized tool for students and employees to use.” What is that about? Students need to be taught how to safely use all programs, not just the approved ones. This note came after I was explaining Google apps to my students, especially Hangout. Most of the students have Gmail accounts and need to be made aware of what the Apps can do. The possibilities in a Hangout are endless. I would think that it would be much better to have a Hangout where you actually see the person you are talking to instead of hiding behind anonymous names in a private chat room.

Until Educational Authorities become serious about using technology to teach, they are wasting the students time and taxpayers money pursuing old technologies and old ways to learn.