Tuesday, September 25, 2007

WiZiQ and the Reluctant Teen

I don't know how I want to start this post. Please understand that I am fully for the integration of technology in our classrooms. In fact, I don't see it so much as an option as a necessity. That being said, let me start you at the beginning.

It all started with Jeff Utecht's wonderful post on WiZiQ. For those of you who don't know, WiZiQ is sort of like a webcasting portal with recording features and so on - that is entirely free. How cool is that? I LOVE Web 2.0. Anyway, I got to thinking how cool it would be to use this in the classroom.

And then I thought of my students.

Last week, I used Alan Levine's Negative Reinforcement University as a test for my psychology classes. If I had a teacher who had done that in school - well, it would have rocked my world. Instead, I heard a lot of complaints. Yes, some of the students did really enjoy it - and they all really learned from it - but many of them didn't like the extra "work" it took to get out of the dungeon.

Which brings me to my point. How do we integrate technology - or embed it, as Jeff Utecht writes - if our students are reluctant at best to accept this? And who can blame them? For the last twelve years, we have taught students to read on paper and write on paper. And now, all of a sudden, we want them to what? Play games to test their abilities? Listen to class discussions online as opposed to in a classroom setting? This must be a very foreign concept indeed.

How can we help our reluctant students move beyond pen and paper and into the realm of the Read-Write Web? We talk a lot about supporting teachers in this, but what about the students?

This sounds overly pessimistic - and I don't want to be. I'm actually pretty excited about WiZiQ, and am trying to figure out a way to use it in my classroom. But, in case you're still bummed, let me end on a happy note. (Make sure you are not in a quiet location when you open that last link.)

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Jeff Utecht said...

I agree that there is student support that goes along with this, but I'm not to sure it's students being reluctant to use the technology. I haven't found a student yet that has turned down the opportunity to grab a computer and start playing.

What I do believe is something that you touch on. That our education system has taught them to be passive learners. Has taught them to sit and get knowledge, not go out and find and learn on your own. That is the retraining that needs to be done. We need to teach students how to learn (go figure) we have taught them how to memorize and regurgitate information, but we have not taught them to learn within the school setting. However, they do know (for the most part) how to learn in this digital world. They learn how to create movies for YouTube, how to hack up a theme on their facebook or myspace page. Where and how did they learn these skills? They are learning how to learn on their own, but when they come to school we have trained them to learn what we tell them and not to create knowledge on their own.

I believe that is where we need to focus...we need to teach students how to learn...how to gather information, analyze it, and create new knowledge from that information...and these are the tools that will allow that to happen.

Susan said...

Perhaps students are not reluctant to use technology. You are correct - they use it all the time at home. Maybe they are reluctant to really learn at school because they have not had that opportunity before - at least not authentically.
Perhaps the problem is not motivating students to use technology - perhaps it is motivating them to be active learners.
So - how can we motivate them to active learning? I believe that I am doing such things in my classroom, but I still have students that can't bear to email me their paper. How can we tell that we are successful in their motivation? Or, like many things in teaching, will we just have to wait and see what happens when we let them loose in the "real world"? The trouble is that in many ways, students already ARE in the "real world" - on Facebook, eBay, MySpace, etc.
Thanks for bringing up such great points, Jeff.