Today we celebrate Digital Learning Day in a number of celebrations online and offline. The focus is on the authentic and effective use of technology in our classrooms. As always, the focus should be on using digital texts and tools to positively affect student learning objectives in our classrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as everyone else in focusing on the really, ridiculously cool things we can do in our classrooms with the addition of technology. But, as I read online, I notice that a number of other people I trust when I think about using technology…are also sharing a cautionary tale. Read the piece by Troy Hicks, or Greg McVerry.
I want us all to remember that one of the most important elements in our classrooms is the human interaction. The presence that a great teacher can have on a student tends to be the single key that can affect student learning and success. The use of technology as a tool in research, self-expression, socializing, and communication can break down the barriers of the classroom. We do still need the teacher to act as guide for students on their journey. As Greg McVerry has frequently stated in our workshops…”Good face-to-face teaching probably will still be good online teaching. Bad face-to-face teaching, is still bad online teaching.” Let us never forget the power that a teacher has in her own classroom.
This point about the power of the “analog” side of teaching also hit home recently in a series of conversations. I read the recent post on Scientific American discussing research that indicated that “online social content” tended to be easier for people to remember than facts from a book. I have argued that the reason for this is the reader of online content most likely attributes some more value, or authority to the online social content only because they know or recognize the person. As they state in the article, people tend to remember and recognize something because it is something that “my friend Emily would post.” The power and instant credibility of that “real” person makes learning “sticky” for our students. As stated in a recent piece on Edudemic…it’s time to focus on skills…not just “cool tools.”