Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I Don't Teach Technology (much)

If you listen to Lauren's brief clip, you will get the idea as to why I spend little time teaching technology: I think students will learn what they need to use and are more likely to retain this knowledge if they apply it toward a particular project. Lauren describes the expertise she gained using video for her Challenge Based Learning Project. I can relate to this because I learned similar skills when I had a specific, real video project of my own. People react skeptically when I say that I did not teach any technology for these media-rich projects, but it's true.

Currently, I working on modified cbl projects with 85 sophomores. Last semester I began by "teaching" them to create Google Accounts, collaborate on group Google Docs, and start wikis. Last week, I skipped all of that. After they organized into groups, I simply told the groups that they were responsible for getting everyone up to speed.

Guess which method was more calm and more successful. The students were motivated to get each other on board. Instead of trying to put out a dozen or more brush fires simultaneously, I only dealt with two or three tech issues in each class. Sure, I will take time to show them a few tools along the way. But I plan to do these in twenty minute lessons rather than entire class periods.

Lauren is an exceptional student and she independently taught herself exceptional skills. But I am learning not to underestimate the power of student groups to motivate and teach each other basic tech skills as long as the requirements are reasonable and clearly communicated.


Ann Lusch said...

I want to be sure I understand correctly because this is so entirely relevant for me. You did take class time, but rather than teach the tech yourself you had the students teach each other?

I'm pretty sure that, one way or another, class time is needed for a lot of these things, but the group approach seems a good way to go.

Larry Baker said...

Thanks Ann. Since I was talking about two different projects in the blog, I sort of muddled the two situations together. For the AP Gov project that Lauren is referencing, not a minute of class time was spend on tech.

In the case of my sophs, I posted some video tutorials for setting up a Google account and sharing a Google Doc. But I required the groups to teach each member how to do both of these things and create a page on the class wiki. The groups had class time for this. And I will be giving the entire class mini lessons on podcasts, videos, and slide presentations along the way.

I have decided that any technology students are required to use must be very simple and highly functional.

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