Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The kids are escaping!!! You'd better run with them!!!

high school computer labImage by vanberto via Flickr

Recently there has been a big debate on echalk about the role of technology in schools and that very soon there will be a major paradigm shift in the way that our students access technology and information... and therefore how and what we teach. And the thing that frightens teachers and administrators is that there is not much they can do about it.

It was mentioned that schools should provide access to resources that are not normally available to kids at home. industrial kitchens, workshops with lathes and welding gear, theatres with lighting and sound systems - but when they come to our "computer" classes we give them something less powerful than the machine they have at home (including some consoles) and more locked down that at home. No wonder they are leaving computer science classes in high school and acting up in primary computer lessons.

The shift may look something like this...

3G and 4G wireless broadband will become cheaper, have more coverage and better bandwidth.
Internet enabled devices such as netbooks, iPads, PADD's and Phones will become cheaper than textbooks. And how are you going to know if they have a 3G or 4G card installed?

Therefore students will be able to access information unfettered by the school network from devices that are not owned by the school. That means all control is lost by the school and the administration - but does that mean they lose responsibility?

So what would be the point of providing school infrastructure such as computers or laptops as well as the network that runs them... apart from some specialised equipment for graphics video production or music.

What this does mean is that the Internet will be unfiltered for these students... Very scary for administrators - or an easy hand off - a perfect NMP (Not My Problem)?

So we are going to have to start teaching how to use the real Internet - not some sanitised version. It's similar to road safety - we are going to have to teach the students how to cross the road, ride a bike and eventually drive - something that has the possibility it may harm them or kill them.

School is real life, it is not a dress rehearsal or training for real life. When our students walk out the door of our classroom we cannot be the loco en parenti for everywhere they go. So we have to give them the skills to live in the jungle. One by one kids are escaping into the jungle... have you taught them the survival skills they are going to need?

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