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Do Students Want to Transform School?

Do Students Want to Transform School?

Kelly Christpherson |

Instead, I see this as a great opportunity to actually crack the model of school and bring about learning changes as we introduce students to the power of these tools at the same time that teachers are learning how to move from being “knowledge holders” to being more of “knowledge enhancers”, assisting students to stretch and move beyond where they are at the moment. As educators grapple with inclusive classrooms and differentiated learning, they need to be moved out of the current paradigm of school but so do the students. Yes e-learning is a great thing but, my experience, having been involved as a teacher and administrator for the past 5 years, is that you need to help the student learn how to learn using this method. You need to help them access their knowledge that is similar and then begin to transfer their skills. Yes they may be able to play videos for hours and be engaged but it isn’t the same as learning online and their are specific skill sets that students need to acquire to make their experience successful. In fact, I spend more time getting them to access their knowledge of online gaming, and getting them off the games, for the situation they are in than I do actually helping them with the learning they are suppose to be doing. And, yes, some students don’t have any trouble but they aren’t the majority. Many find it frustrating as they learn the technology while trying to learn subject material.

A New Paradigm?

This experience has me wondering if we will indeed see changes in the present school systems as quickly as we think. I use to think that within 5 years we would begin to see significant changes. Now, I’m not so sure. My discussions are opening a whole new arena that, up until now, I was taking forgranted – they know about technology and will just slide right along. Yes, some of them will but some of them aren’t as tech savvy. For most, they know a great deal about very specific things, texting for example, but when it comes to using technology in a learning environment, in a new and different way, it doesn’t transfer. In fact, most of my students haven’t heard of twitter, plurk, slideshare, animoto, googledocs and many of the others tools that I use. They know very little about Facebook other than how to paste photos and add comments. Their understanding of online bookmarking and rss readers is nonexistant. Their ability to use Word or other software is very limited. In so many ways, they have so much to learn about technology and its uses that they are, ahem, immigrants themselves.

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A Perfect Fit

If so many hadn’t bought into these notions, we would probably have a perfect fit. Teachers, unsure of the tools and students, unsure of the tools, both moving along a learning continuum. Sometimes the students would be ahead of the teachers with using the tools but the teacher, with the knowledge base they have, being able to guide and help the students to challenge themselves and expand their knowledge by asking them critical questions, probing and giving suggestions, helping the student to use the tools to further their understanding. It’s a perfect match!

So, back to the social class. We are using different tools but I am realizing that I have to teach the students how to use them as many find them frustrating since they are new and different from basic tools they use. I am toying with having them take part in a Flat Classroom Project but I feel they need to know a few more things. I know it would be a great experience but I am wondering if I have the time – as an administrator it is a very busy time of the year. (I really should be correcting instead of writing this post so I can work on administrative things tomorrow!) We are going to continue to explore this whole idea of “school” the rest of the semester, in different ways. Maybe, by then, I’ll have a more complete idea of how this transformation might be possible.

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