Thursday, July 9, 2009
TEACHER VS. STUDENT – WHO’S WHO HERE ??? Ken Grisham President / CEO Premier Assistive Technology
There is a aphorism about old age to the effect that “The child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child” referring to a time in our lives when our parents take care of us, then we grow up and, in turn, may take care of our parents as they grow old. Even as recently as the late 1990’s, the primary conduits for learning had always been through our parents and teachers…..authority figures who effectively ruled most of our lives, at least until early adulthood when we ventured out on our own. Virtually nothing could be learned that parents and teachers did not already know and they were expected to “pass” that information down to the next generation as part of the overall education process. Generally over time, younger generations came to respect the older generations because they were, for all practical purposes, the “only real path to knowledge” and growth. In today’s world of digital information and access, we see happenings that are analogous to the “parent-child / child-parent inversion, but perhaps in a more unsettling way….a way that presents a major hurdle to migration to a digital world. As access to independent sources of information have become more affordable and widely available, it is much easier for children to discover, learn and apply knowledge without working through parents or teachers. One of the emerging consequences of this new digital reality is a “loss of respect” for authority figures because children can acquire knowledge and skills WITHOUT going through an authority figure, thereby diluting their implied “authority power”. We continue to see children who are far more adept at using multi-tasking devices like cell phones, MP3 players, CD/DVD players-recorders, video recorders, access to the Internet and complex video gaming systems. In those instances, children effectively don’t NEED the adults to show them ANYTHING. The children acquired their knowledge on their own and KNOW MORE THAN THE ADULTS. Even worse, many adults (including teachers) now clearly articulate that they DON’T WANT TO KNOW (AND HAVE NO INTENTION OF LEARNING) about those technologies…thereby, further eroding the child’s confidence that they should turn to adults to acquire knowledge. The student has become the teacher and the teacher has become the student!! There are 3 major elements of the digital classroom strategy. 1. Digital reading tools. Literacy software and hardware that can directly access and work with digital sources of information. 2. Digital content. Digital content can be create in one of several ways: a. Acquire directly from publishers b. Acquire from public sources (e.g. Internet sites, blogs, wikis) c. Acquire from 3rd-party services (Bookshare, RFBD, AMX) d. Create internally by generating new documents or scanning hardcopy materials. 3. Integrated digital curriculum. Digital literacy tools combined with digital content are meaningless unless they can be effectively integrated into an overall curriculum that is the mainstay of the day-to-day classroom environment. All three of these elements MUST BE PRESENT in order to have a successful digital education environment.