Technology is ubiquitous, touching almost every part of our lives, our communities, our homes. Yet most schools lag far behind when it comes to integrating technology into classroom learning. Many are just beginning to explore the true potential tech offers for teaching and learning. Properly used, technology will help students acquire the skills they need to survive in a complex, highly technological knowledge-based economy.
Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.
Many people believe that technology-enabled project learning is the ne plus ultra of classroom instruction. Learning through projects while equipped with technology tools allows students to be intellectually challenged while providing them with a realistic snapshot of what the modern office looks like. Through projects, students acquire and refine their analysis and problem-solving skills as they work individually and in teams to find, process, and synthesize information they've found online.
The myriad resources of the online world also provide each classroom with more interesting, diverse, and current learning materials. The Web connects students to experts in the real world and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text.
New tech tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding. And, as an added benefit, with technology tools and a project-learning approach, students are more likely to stay engaged and on task, reducing behavioral problems in the classroom.
Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means. It also enhances the relationship between teacher and student. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun.
The children today have it lucky. I probably sound like I have one foot in the grave with that line but I still think that you are only as old as you feel. I would like to feel twenty year olds but my wife has different ideas :) Hrmph, hmmm, back to the subject.
Yes, children today have it lucky. This thought struck me as I entered an elevator (or lift) and there was a mother with her child there. The child had an electric trike. I have also seen many other children (all around five or six) with motorised toys. I have even seen them so young they could hardly walk yet were, snake like, meandering around in an electric toy jeep.
Then there are all the other toys and doodads which require a charger or batteries to make them do and create all sorts of electronic wonderlands for the impressionable minds of our next generations. When I was a young whippersnapper and still wet behind the ears (I like to think I still am :) electronic toys were unheard of. About the closest thing was a battery powered monkey which clashed cymbals together until either the batteries ran out or your father, in a fit of tinnitus induced rage, destroyed it like a rabid dog.
One thing I do remember is no matter what I had, I would pull it apart to see what makes it tick, whirr or go ping. Most of the time when I put it back together it would still work. The occasional extra spring or sprocket didn't seem to affect the wocket in my pocket much.
These days children have iThis and iThat as well as cell(mobile) phones, netbooks, laptops and the now common desktop pc. The problem with these is that the exploration potential of these devices is very limited. You can open them up and see, what? A circuit board, a few extraneous components and that is about it. There is nothing to show how it is working. Nothing to pull out and be surprised by a loud sproing and greeted with a twisted metal ribbon which must be wrestled into a tight coil again.
About the only thing the children of the future have left now is exploration of the mind. Not theirs, their mind is still forming. They can only explore the mind of the people who programmed these closed mystery black or these days, multi-coloured boxes. Most of the time they can only do that by pressing buttons and going through menus to try and guess what the programmer was thinking. This is why hacking or jail breaking these closed and proprietary items is so popular.
Fortunately open source software has reached the point where it has become mainstream. Companies are buying other companies purely for their open source components. Other open source programs are extremely popular and grabberments, educational institutions and more businesses than ever before are seriously considering or using open source software. However, you may be thinking, what does this have to do with our children?
It is quite simply this. Open source gives our children back the power to see how their world works. They no longer have to infer or guess what the programmer is thinking. They can actually see exactly what the thought processes of the programmer(s) are and from that gain an understanding of these mysterious electron munchers. From that base they can twist and tweak to regain control of that physical medium and make it do what they wish. Without a thousand and one cuts from a stubborn metal ribbon.
Open source allows our future children to see how an operating system works. They can see how a word processor runs or a browser browses. They can understand how a computer plays music, video files or record from webcams. They can, with open source, go deep into the hardware and watch the signals from their keyboard trigger events in the kernel. They can see exactly how and why that kernel reacts to those signals and they can easily modify and experiment with that process.
That is they key word right there. Experimentation! Without experimentation then we, as a species, will not improve. If everything was handed to us and we could simply just use it without understanding how it works, then pretty soon there would be no-one left with enough knowledge or desire to make more of these interesting electronic nick knacks. Even now I see this trend where younger people than I, can not think outside the beaten path and when faced with an unusual situation can do nothing, nor even think of anything to do. A real case of monkey see, monkey do.
When I see that sort of behaviour it makes me sad. I think that this current crop of future makers, takers and earth shakers is at a serious disadvantage. Once their mentors have passed on and this current new generation is left on its own there will be a lot of lost wandering and much wailing and gnashing of teeth. This is where the future children will inherit the earth.
Their minds will not be welded shut by those whose only aim is to gain material wealth. The future childs wealth will be in the knowledge treasure trove which open source can open up to them. Provided they wish to lift the lid of course. For those inquisitive minds which do so they will gain the greatest treasure of all and the key to shaping the world to their liking. The future will be in the hands of the next generations and open source will be the instrument of their power.
At least that is how I see the future of our tomorrows child. How do you see it? What do you think the advantages and disadvantages our future children will have? Will, in your opinion, open source have a large or small role to play?