I have watched my students collaboratively write scripts for their science documentaries using google documents or completing SWOT analyses about cyber safety and M-learning. Students then filmed their documentaries using their smart devices. Students look up answers on their smart devices instead of using textbooks and they generate answers from interactive on line simulations like this one about transpiration. My students also email me homework and study questions. They listen to their music whilst doing maths and then listen to explanatory videos when they get stuck. We can also record our class discussions and post them to the web.
For many of my students who already have Facebook accounts and literally thousands of followers on Twitter and Tumblr, the above is nothing new. For other students, I have had to send emails to their parents to explain why their child would like to bring their ipod touch to school. For others, I have had to explain why we are using smart devices in maths (hello, chicken coop fractions!). As an avid tweeter myself, I wanted to get my maths class tweeting support/help/homework/tips/reminders to each other as well as tweet their progress on a school wide maths treasure hunt (think school blue print with measurement problems as the clues). However I encountered some serious resistance to this idea from parents because they did not see the need for social networking in maths. (Granted, this is an outside of the box idea). Most of us might be able to do maths out of textbooks but after 10 years of this without success, is it time to try a new approach for some students? One of support and communication where they are reflecting and thinking (read tweeting) about maths outside the classroom?
The tools and resources that are available to education is enormous. But are parents ready for the progress that education is making? Are they aware of the technological demands that are placed on people in the work place today? Our school has introduced My Portfolio and had many teachers panicked and stressed because they do not have the skills to use it effectively. Graphic designers, photographers even those in marketing and leadership require e-portfolios and even twitter accounts to show their work or influence. Yet some of the older students in my classes are not allowed to use their computers at home for anything other than research. Web 2.0 has infiltrated on so many levels of education, but are parents aware of the progress? The importance? Or the effectiveness? By no stretch do I believe we should use technology for everything we do. Only where it enhances or improves the end product. Technology is however enhancing the possibilities and the range of students that teachers can reach and engage.
Lots of teachers, governments and definitely students might be ready to embrace the benefits of technology in education, but are parents ready?