Spencer’s Scratch Pad: why my students weren’t excited about the netbooks (and why that’s a good thing)
“I bet they were excited about the netbooks.”“Not really,” I answer.“I’m sorry to hear that.”“No, it’s a good thing. It will help make the paradigm shift from tech as toys to tech as tools.”I often believe that the concept of Digital Natives is mostly overhyped. I have students who know nothing about using a computer to help them think, but they are “experts” since they use Myspace and Facebook. But here’s where I see the native idea make sense: they are used to computers. It’s the language they speak and culture in which they inhabit. My journey this won’t be pushing them toward understanding the technology so much as use the technology to think critically about the technology and the techno-world it has formed.
John Spencer describes a beautiful series of encounters with his new students. His primary message is the way computers have made the transition to unremarkable tools for learning rather than the center piece of the classroom. This is still not so in a vast number of classrooms, but it is certainly true in the minds of our young learners.
John’s anecdote captured my attention with what it revealed about him and his new students. Meet the teacher night is meet your students night. John meets his student’s curiosity and determination to learn. John does not attempt to describe all of his students, but in a few short conversations he establishes learning as the goal of his classroom and that it is the student ownership that will meet that goal.
I think I generated some attention among the students last year. It is an unaccustomed celebrity. I like to think my flexibility and invitation to autonomy and connected learning was the main reason, but I know my emphasis on integrated technology played a big part. John’s post encourages me to begin my year with a focus on the uniqueness of each student and their common need to learn. The technology is part of the how, not the why.