all about making learning fun . . . right?"
I hear it almost every day. " . . . The
students like to work on the computers - they love their email, they love surfing
the 'Net, they love clip art, they love on-line music. It makes kids more
interested in learning! That's what this technology thing is all about,
If that were it, the next question
would have to be "Is it responsible of Fayette County Public Schools to spend a large portion of our educational budget just
to make things fun for students?" Despite the protestation of
thousands of students, the answer to that would be an unqualified "No!" But, not
surprisingly, the interest and fun that the use of technology generates is
only a side benefit - it's the frosting, but it's a long way from being
the cake. As responsible educators, we use and encourage the use of
technology in education for many reasons, two of which are . . .
1) It's about capability -
providing educational experiences and benefits where none existed before.
This includes everything from instant communication between teachers and
students across campuses and oceans (see Into
the Classroom), to click-able access to massive
amounts of instructional material and information (see Red
Hot Links). However, that's not
even the whole story.
A recent focus of our local newspaper was on the lack of
decent Advanced Placement (AP) classes and electives for our more advanced
students. How can we address this problem? Two possible technology
solutions, both of which exist right now, right here:
- Distance Learning through Kentucky
Virtual High School: this environment provides a state-wide
platform for the offering of classes not otherwise available at a
school. [Editor's note: see Ambrose
for January for a list of teacher PD opportunities from KVHS.]
- Classroom sharing through Video
Conferencing: with this capability, a class offered at one
school can be taken in real time by students at another through video conferencing.
In both cases, these offerings will never compete with
the ideal - a real teacher in front of a real classroom. They only
provide classes and opportunities where none existed before!
2) It's about preparation -
making sure that the students of Kentucky schools are ready to compete in
today's workplace, and are prepared to help Kentucky thrive in the
Economy. The technology that exists today in nearly every business and
work setting must be reflected in our schools. Our students deserve
Even the "fun" factor is more potent
than it might imply. It has been demonstrated time and again that students
are more engaged, and actually learn more, when technology provides a
vehicle or a facet to the lesson. As a result, the integration of
technology into education provides new capability and prepares our students,
even as it improves and enhances all our other educational goals. It's a
Of course, although I am a great fan of cake, I'm
certainly not above eating frosting right out of the can. Welcome to the
December edition of TIPS!
- Jeffrey L. Jones