Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Patrick's vision of the future had me recalling scenes of THX 1138. A totally computerized society where decisions about the fate of humanity were made with cold, hard logic. Patrick's essay did not describe this scenario so much as my fears being that anything being so efficient and functional would quickly be tainted by misuse of governmental entities and special interests that hold power. There was a sense of how the individual would be classified and funneled through a machine that quickly and automatically recognized what each and every member of society most needed in order to become an educated and productive member of the society.
My immediate response to the thoughts of future use of technology is probably a bit grim because of my exposure to science fiction films and literature. I am not so dismal in my actual views however. The concept of remaining open-minded and forward thinking is one I try to embrace and apply. The constructivist approach to learning combined with digital tools in the classroom offer a wide variety of avenues to explore information and learn problem solving skills from. The teacher acting as a "guide on the side" allows students to own their discoveries and formulate more meaningful experiences in the classroom.
Many teachers are unfamiliar with digital media and unwilling to adapt to the changes necessary to facilitate a constructivist-learning environment. The school district I worked with last year had voluntary teacher training to enhance digital literacy in the classroom and turnout was quite low. Will it require policy changes to force teachers into training and acceptance of new and unfamiliar ideas? How can the transition to a digitally literate and constructivist-based classroom be implemented smoothly? Teacher “buy-in” is the preferred approach but I am skeptical from my experiences in elementary schools that this will occur. It seems more likely that specialized classrooms designed specifically for digital media will need to exist prior to acceptance throughout individual classrooms in the school.
I am also concerned about the availability of equipment and the needs for maintenance of equipment once it is available. Without an efficient and supportive tech staff to back up implementation of technological applications, it is unlikely any digital education will go far.