Don’t they know it all already?
In a word, no. Just because our pupils are exposed to a massive amount of ‘tech’ it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be adept at using for a variety of outcomes or be able to critically evaluate the impact that it has on them or on society. Most people tend to use this stuff on a ‘need to know’ basis. No-one knew how to tweet or IM before the technology became available, and so young people will tend to use whatever is most popular or most useful for them in their social interactions. Not to sell them short, in fact the massive positive to be taken from this is that because they do spend a lot of time using it, the possibilities in the classroom are hugely broadened.
Techs into teaching
There is an insane amount out there. From Storify to Posterous, from Twitter to Wallwisher, the web and associated technologies are just bursting with stuff that can add a bit of va va voom to your lessons. . The question that I feel is often left unanswered, is why it’s being used.
Issues and problems
All too often we end up ‘ticking the box’ of new technologies and then getting back to what we usually do. Schools or departments may desire a modern feel to their school but truly embedding into a curriculum or a school ethos may be tricky. Some teachers find these technologies challenging, and are reluctant to feel out of their depth. Others point out that a lot of teaching techniques could be done without them. While this may be the case, I think this is slightly missing the point.
Keeping it fresh
Allowing pupils to create content, comment in different ways, or even just see things on a different type of screen, is undoubtedly what is needed in the modern classroom. The value of taking something they are incredibly familiar and comfortable with and using it as an educational tool should ensure your lessons stay fresh and exciting. However, this doesn’t mean that throwing a blog writing exercise or getting everyone to Tweet about something suddenly escalates your teaching, and it’s interesting to note that Ofsted no longer include it as a criteria for an Outstanding lesson. As ever, if it fits with the lesson, and it suits the learners, it can have a valuable impact on the outcome. As ever, let’s not be doing things for the sake of it.