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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Technology and Students: The Neighborhood, the Culture

This was one of our discussion during the course I teach at Chestnut Hill College one more Saturday in May and 3 Saturdays in June: what is the main (self-chosen) purpose of computers for students? We agreed it was - for fun. Our students view computers as fun, as how to communicate, as how to share.

What was our purpose as educators for computers? Mostly to do work, with some elements for fun and communicating.

The question then becomes how do we consider the social aspect of computers when we are integrating into our classes. And how to consider more deeply that our students are immersed in the culture of technology/computers, which means it's all around them, they are conversant and accepting of the culture, they are part of the culture, but oftentimes they do not question the culture. How then to relate their culture to what and how we're teaching, while keeping the bar high for rigor in content and expectations -- and how to challenge our students around technology. The challenging them part is important because of how accepting many students are of this digital culture, which is also their neighborhood.

Many adults of my age experienced a neighborhood of homes or apartments close together - and had a lot of free time. We weren't scheduled and structured so much so we used our feet or maybe our bicycles to go see who was around. We had the perception of "safety" and so long as we came home for dinner, we could spend a lot of time socially interacting with our peers. But students now are structured and scheduled and our neighborhoods are different. There is the perception of less safety.

The neighborhood today is all around IM, texting, Facebook, Myspace - and probably interactions happen later at night when all the homework and activities are done. And as students will tell you, email is old people's technology. Their neighborhood is just as important as ours was, and like ours was is also is an adaptation to their physical environment and the time available. (Knowing the term "our neighborhood" is loose and doesn't apply to all educators of course.)

Not new questions or conversations of course, all related to Vygotsky, Dewey, Seeley-Brown, others. But relevant to educators teaching those immersed in the digital culture.

Wondering what others are thinking ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To know how to teach, using computers, we must understand the human mind. See the new book on "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better".