Check the Wind First

I have not seen any compelling reason to upgrade my iPhone to a 3G system — until a few days ago when I read about Wikitude, a new iPhone app that turns your phone into an augmented reality device.  Point your phone and Wikipedia articles about the object(s) you are looking at float before your eyes (or in your palm).

I’m still struggling with catching up on my e-mail.  The problem is those messages that I get stuck on, someone who’d like a new source added to Citation Machine, or “Blabberize embeds aren’t working with Class Blogmeister!” — and I get bogged down in coding.  Then there’s the question that is so interesting that I start thinking and writing and thinking and writing, and it becomes an even greater time sink. At least when the programming works, you’re done with it.

A good example was an e-mail I got from a reporter in a mid-western state, asking my opinion about schools that are preventing students from bringing iPods into their classes.  Of course, not knowing the whole situation, I can not reply with a specific opinion.  But thinking about my response took me back to a TV show Brenda and I watched last night, one of those story endings where the reconciled buddies gather on the bridge (or the mountain top or on board a ship) to cast the ashes of their dearly departed chum.  I always [ALWAYS] want to call out, “Which way is the wind blowing, guys?”

I would ask school and classroom leaders the same question as they struggle to keep control of the learning environments of their students.  What is it that is dear to us that’s going to blow back into our eyes, as we try to fight the wind, and what is it blinding us to.  I wrote (paraphrased) to the reporter,

..I am afraid that being overly concerned about personal pocket technologies is preventing us from addressing the far larger issue of helping our students learn and work within today’s information landscape.  The prevailingly digital and networked content that surrounds us is different, in almost every way, from the textbooks we continue to pour educational dollars into.  Rather than working to block pocket technologies from entering the classroom, we need to be working harder to get more full-featured information and communication technologies (laptops or netbooks) under the arms of every teacher and student learner and establishing platforms for learning in this new landscape.

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2 thoughts on “Check the Wind First”

  1. As a teacher hoping to return to education after seven years off taking care of of kids and working part time, I am finding catching up with the winds of change quite a challenge. I am slowly being won over to the argument that the important issue is communication and knowledge of information access, and not trying to police where and when students are allowed to use “pocket technologies” as you call them. I do think, however, that when we consider any new educational component, no matter what it is, we need to remember the ultimate question–how will this be good, useful, helpful, etc. in moving students forward?

  2. I am a third year teacher and my school frowns upon students listening to ipods inside the classroom. I beleive the main reason for this is because very few students actually use their ipods for educational purposes. Most students simply want to listen to music or watch videos during classroom instruction. If my studnets are completing individual writing, I do not have a problem with them listening to music because I do beleive it helps keep them focused in the writing process. However, I do not see a reason for a student to use an ipod if they are reading in class, listening to a short lecture, or engaging in small group work.

    I understand that we want to integrate technology into the classroom, but it needs to be in such a way that students are either seeking or writing about information pertaining to their subject areas and not just simply wanting their friend to hear the newest song by a certain artist. I think it also comes down to a trust factor. How do I know if my students are using their ipods to help facilitate learning or are they simply watching the newest Family Guy episode?

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