Thursday, September 27, 2007

How can using the Internet support my Student's Learning?

Hello again. After a period of not posting so regularly, I now appear to be making up for it.

I'm currently part way through an Australian Pilot of the new Intel Teaching Essentials Online course.

Without going into too much detail, it's a course that fosters reflection on the pedagogy of using web based tools in your daily classroom life. Eg, Develop a unit of work the fosters both higher order thinking skills and 21st century skills, meets your jurisdictional syllabus outcomes, introduces practical ways of using blogs, wikis, and other online tools such as google docs, Zoho, and del.icio.us, all within a quality framework of formative and summative assessments. Basically its about best practice, and so far I have found it to be exemplary.

The most recent activity asked me to reflect upon:

  • How can I use the Internet to support my teaching and students’ learning?
  • How can I ensure responsible and appropriate use of the Internet?
.....a good and worthwhile activity in my opinion. The following is posted on my course blog, but I though I'd post it here and open up the discussion for my own benefit really. So please feel free to add your thoughts to mine
Use of the internet can support my students' learning by exposing them to a bigger world of ideas than would otherwise be possible. The students can view the work of their global peers, and assess themselves on the quality of their own creations.The internet has the potential to expand cultural awareness (and expose culture-centric views).

The internet supports my teaching by providing similar benefits as it does to the students. I can participate in discussion with my peers and colleagues. I can share ideas, develop strategies, and have my views challenged, modified and refined. (My view can even be ridiculed and trashed).

Responsible use of the web can be fostered in a few ways. Each of which contribute to the goal of creating safe, fun, online learning spaces. Supervision, AUP's and filtering are vital. But perhaps just as vital is an understanding or appreciation by the teacher of the dynamics and technicalities of virtual learning spaces. If the students are with a guide they can trust and enjoy the journey with, then a communication can develop that will enhance the understandings of both teacher and student. (We learn together).

How can a child discern the "bad" or "mediocre", if they have not been exposed to the "good" or "excellent"? Who will expose them to the good and excellent if their teachers cannot?

This brings me to the point of website filtering. Can we go to far? Can we filter too much? I don't know about others, but I don't want my children to grow up in a virtual clean room. Children need to understand that there are pitfalls and nasties, and need to be given strategies which will enable them to deal with these nasties. Then there is the question of exactly who does the filtering. As an extreme (perhaps) example: Do we filter to please our corporate sponsor at the expense of highlighting human rights violations. Do we filter from a certain religious world view? Big questions, no apparent easy answers.


What do you think?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Using the Internet is crucial in the learning process for most if not all of today's students. The business world at large is using the Intrenet for applications and most of it's business processes as well as a mean sof communication and education. To deny our students access to the Internet would be putting them behind in thsi world of online business and learning. I am a firm beleiver in the concept of "Learn by doing". The internet is a valuable tool in teaching students to do their own investigation and assessmnets.

As far as filtering is concerned, I don't think there is much filtering going on throughout the Internet - the society we live in is well grounded in it's rights to free speech. That is not to say that we should not filter certain types of information from the eyes of youngsters. I beleive we do have an obligation to our students and their parents to keep their surfing restricted to age appropriate information witin the schools.

hala nur said...

Greetings
I will quote a comment I posted on a google group hosted by the American Embassy in Sudan for English language teachers. I wrote:
Salam Everyone first I would like to thank the American Embassy for
the DVC about the use of technology as a tool for teaching English. The quotation of Winston Churchill is really true if we look back in the past we will be able to see the future . What I feel is that as university teachers we should equip our students with tools they need in their future. We shouldn't teach in the way our own teachers taught
us 14 years ago because we are in different times. We are caught in
the middle between two generations. The first is our teachers who lived most of their lives without the internet and our students who are living in the age of mobile technology . We have to take a decision to which generation we want to stick to. I really had great teachers who taught me most of what I know, they are a great generation. But we have a responsibilities towards our students. We have to equip them for a time which we may not live to see. I would like to invite you all to read an article written by Vance Stevens an American who works in Abu Dhabi entitled "New Learning for
Sustainability in the Arab Region Motivating Change: New Learning in
Formal Education for Sustainable Development" It is a very interesting
article and I hope every one will enjoy reading.
This is the link
http://prosites-vstevens.homestead.com/files/efi/papers/2007alexandri...

Hala 2

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Ben said...

You were asked to ensure responsible and appropriate use of the internet. Well, how do you keep appropriate use of scissors in your class. You show the student how to use them, anticipate problems and explain them. If a student forgets, you redirect them. As for filtering, many people put up a stink about it, but how many complain about the text books. Someone in the district selects books that might have certain information intentionally included or missing.

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