Teaching & Technology

My brilliant cousin, Nate Gandomi, who studies (broadly) education and technology at Berkeley, just wrote a thoughtful post about a book called The E-Learning and Social Networking Handbook. My comment to his post is below:

“The hype that follows the emergence of new technologies assumes a smooth transition between entertainment and education.” . . . this quote summarizes the frustration I have felt when trying to integrate technology in the classroom. I’ve sat through workshops on everything from Google Maps to Dipity to Mind Maps to Second LIfe, all of which inspired me to try something new in class . . . until I tried to create a lesson plan of my own, at which point I’d just feel stumped. I’m not trying to say that integrating technology into the classroom cannot be both fun and educational, but I do think it takes *a lot* of creativity and effort on the instructor’s part. Also, teachers can’t simply find a YouTube video to show once in a while — they have to carefully choose which technologies they bring into the classroom based on their goals for the course.

I was also very struck by the phrase “access to information does not equate knowledge.” I remember showing my students on-line bibliography tools, as in, “isn’t it great? You never have to memorize the format of citations!” I would assume that I could then skip discussing how to make a bibliography in class–surely the students could figure it out for themselves. Of course, most of the students did not make a correctly formatted bibliography (probably at least half did not make one at all). More importantly, they did not understand the purpose of citing sources.

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