Twitter and Technology

March 6, 2009

Alright, I’ve been playing on Twitter! Yes, it IS addictive – I spend enough time on Facebook as it is! So far I’m trying to build a network of fellow teachers. It’s somewhat helpful but thus far I have found that many of the people in education are HARDCORE technies and veteran teachers.

Many are less concerned with curriculum choices and classroom behaviors and more concerned with the newest flashiest way to incorporate technology. Some have moved on the focusing on educational news/economics.   I’m afraid I do not find such posts (“tweets”) to be very helpful and they seem highly ideological.  Personally, I cannot foresee when I might reach that level.  I worry that I will be scaping by forever!

With that said, I plan to remain active on the site in hopes that I will find fellow geeky neophyte teachers in need of simpler discussions revolving around everyday classroom activities and events that include technology only as much as it is practical.

Regarding the hype of using technology as an educational stimulus, I find that often teachers overestimate students – myself included!  I assumed students knew how to perform useful Google searches, how to email attachments, and even thought many might already have blogs.  I was wrong!  While most have Facebook, you don’t have to be very tech savvy to function on that site.  I’ve found that I am more tech oriented than many of the teens I work with!  This was unexpected.  I’ve only been online since 5th grade (everyone had AOL back then – freakishly slow dial up and my Dad used to monitor my hours VERY closely!  We paid for packages much like cell phone packages of today!) while my students have likely been online since they potty trained!  (FYI – I am 24 years old, graduated HS in 2002, college in 2006 to help you get a feel for the generation I belong to!)

In my Technology in the Classroom class (I’m finishing up my Masters during my first year of teaching… masochism sucks) our instructor would randomly throw out ideas he’d heard of and I’m sorry to tell you that mine was the first hand raised in offense each time!  One such whimsical notion was that we could put live streaming video of classroom instruction/lectures on OUR FACEBOOK PROFILES!  Sure… cuz when kids are on Facebook and have numerous friends online to Facebook chat with, they are instead going to click on their TEACHERS’ profiles to watch a LECTURE.  Because the school day just isn’t long enough for them, and they have so much free time leftover after their activites AND homework.

I worry about the proverbial “pendulum” in education.  It often feels as if education is as trendy as fashion.  In retrospect – it is obviously ridiculous! We MUST do whatever the most current authorities tell us and ignore the tried and true methods.  If technology exists, we must use it at every turn because it’s what students love.  I love technology and I do strive to incorporate it, but students must also know how to do regular paperwork and groupwork.  Students should be perfectly capable of finding books in the library and know how to find the most relevant information in the book, even though they can’t scan for the word as they can on the web.

Well, that was a lovely incoherent tangent…  Bottom line:  use technology when it fits well, don’t bend over backwards to squeeze or cram it in.  Don’t feel pressured to include EVERY new gadget that comes into existence.  Trendy is not always better!!!

What do YOU think?


10 Responses to “Twitter and Technology”

  1. I think your point about using technology where it makes sense, and where it complements what is going on in the classroom, is right on the money. Sure, there are lot of cool things on the radar screen, but does it have educational value? That is the tricky part.

  2. mrsfollis2 Says:

    Thanks for contributing!!! As excited as I am about all of the neat sites out there (and I’m currently looking into starting a Ning for some type of summer reading bookclub/collaborative project…) I feel like I’m bombarded with notions that technology is all there it anymore. Having face time to discuss and work on projects is still critical in education. Being able to read a novel and write an essay about it STILL matters.

    My biggest problem seems to be the pendulum I mentioned. I just worry that disregarding some aspects of traditional ed will leave a generation of students ill prepared. I myself am part of the “whole language” generation and have never diagrammed a sentence nor did I receive adequate instruction on parts of speech in my K-12 education. This is because of a trend – the research backed it up! Yet, schools have since returned to teaching students the ingredients of language because current research shows they were WRONG!

    Just some food for thought, again, thanks so much for responding! 🙂

  3. Rick Says:

    Many of the ed tech gurus out there are quick to adopt a new platform, then move on just at the time it is coming into mainstream.

    As for me, I was able to teach a group of teachers how to use a wiki earlier this year. They were impressed, and enjoyed the tech presentation, but I don’t see a ton of them popping up around our school. Last year, I started a staff blog, and we had a lot of people interested at first, but then it kind of went by the wayside. My challenge, as an educator who is involved in technology, is to show staff how they can use these tools to improve their planning and teaching.

  4. I agree with you about using tech tools when appropriate…or those you are comfortable with.

    Last summer I went on tech overload…finally had to decide which ones work best for and just focus on those.

    Planning to add another one or two now that I have become somewhat comfortable with those. Have to say “somewhat,” for there’s an upgrade right around every corner! For example, had to upgrade my wiki…actually like it better now!

    I enjoy reading your blogs and tweets…hang in there…in a few months you will be a second year teacher!

  5. JoeDuck Says:

    Huge kudos to you as a teacher and early adopter of new technologies. In our Twitter chat I didn’t realize you were a *first year* teacher so I hope I’m not discouraging you. FYI my wife teaches and many relatives too, and my dad taught History and Philosophy of Education (few of them agree with my education. critiques).

    My key concern is with HS and above rather than elementary, where I think basic skills are taught in “fun” and relevant ways by skilled, hard working teachers.

    After about 3rd grade I’d argue we are teaching as if kids are learning when they generally are not. Retention in HS is very low as we force the abstractions of Trig, Calculus, and the silly stuff I learned (and quickly forgot) to merit an aptly named B.S. in Botany and the even sillier stuff to nab an M.S. in Social Sciences. Many teachers are teaching to future teachers, not current students. I’d vote to change that.

  6. Tony Searl Says:

    Just keep chipping away, you ahve made a great start.

    I’ve narrowed the new fangled tools down to a few and I’m amazed how easier my tech life has become.

    Never artificially push it, just let it happen, attitude is FAR more significant than skills.

  7. Jennifer Says:

    I enjoyed reading your comments and hear your frustrations. As someone from an “older” generation (I graduated high school in 1993), I find that I have some similar perspectives as you. I have been teaching in a high school with a one-to-one laptop program for five years, and I find that students’ use of tech is a little slower in terms of their learning than we may have feared/hoped. Currently, my juniors are still resistant in appreciating how the tech enhances the learning, but my sophomores are using applications independently and by choice. So, the shift is happening. Our current middle schoolers are going to blow us away with the ease in which they think of incorporating tech into their projects and personal organization. I can’t wait!

    As I have explored these new changes in teaching, I don’t think that this is a pendulum swing. This is an inherent change in access to information and classroom management. I find that lessons and classrooms which are more student directed will be able to incorporate the opportunities offered by tech more easily. Classrooms which are more traditional teacher directed will have more growing pains. But, student oriented learning is not new. It’s just that the avenues and opportunities for students to explore are expanding. How big do you want your classroom to be?

    I’m going to keep following your blog and hopefully we can come up with some kind of collaboration. I love your idea about a summer ning book club and was thinking of something similar myself! I was going to use (jclarkevans) because my students already have a group there.

  8. mrsfollis2 Says:

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond!

    Rick – It must be very hard to get teachers who are not naturally drawn to technology to get past the novelty of it. I would hope that more and more teachers are at least maintaining some type of online “filing cabinets” (blog, wiki,etc) because it makes everyone’s life easier! Good luck!

    Tammy – I agree, I see all these neat add ons but I need to focus on the few things I can handle at a time. For now, it’s been wordpress, ning, and twitter. I even have an extra twitter account to give homework due dates only (ex: read ch. 4-6 by Monday) etc. There’s a twitterfeed widget on the ning. Don’t you love the bizarre words we use for these techgems?

    I’m interested to know what sites/applications/etc you have been using so far and found useful? Oh- and thanks for always being so helpful on twitter!!! 🙂

  9. mrsfollis2 Says:

    Joe – I have to agree to disagree here. I believe that it’s not learning Calculus or learning Shakespeare that’s important. It’s learning how to learn, how to think, and how to stretch the brain muscles. Why do athletes continue to improve each decade and beat old records but we cannot ask the same of students? Should we not strive to improve and build our knowledge base for each new generation? My point is that it doesn’t matter if you remember how to do Calculus (I don’t, and I aced that class!) it’s that you were able to learn it. It helped your brain grow, whether you know it now or not! 🙂 Thoughts?

  10. mrsfollis2 Says:

    Tony – I would also be very interested in learning what tools you chose when you pared down? In what ways did they prove the most beneficial? Sometimes, with all the options available, it can be overwhelming! Thanks!!

    Jennifer – It’s kinda funny that you mention the juniors as the more reluctant. I’ve noticed that in my school, they almost seem to represent the end of “my generation” as my sophomores seem more distant in terms of age and experiences while growing up.

    I agree that using technology is not inherently a pendulum swing, but that for SOME it is. Some advocates push it a bit too far for my taste. My fear is that they will push to the point that we are forced to drop “old school” techniques and later realize that they, too, had intrinsic value. (Much like the whole language generation I mentioned in an earlier comment.)

    I’m actually writing my Capstone (thesis w/out faculty committe, I’m told) about student led learning and am a huge advocate. I always thought I would prefer the lecture and Socratic questioning model, and while I use it at times, it is surprisingly (to me) not at the forefront of my teaching style. It often feels like pulling teeth, and is unpleasant in many ways-for me. To be fair, I’m also an introvert and this style asks me to be center stage for longer than my comfort zone allows, anyway!

    What books were you considering for summer reading? I still have not finalized my list. I’ll go check out the librarything right now! Thanks for you post!!!!!

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