Seeing Through Walls

I attended the Exhibitor’s Reception last night at the South Carolina EdTech conference. I saw lots of old friends, some new companies (mostly selling the same stuff), and some good food, even for a vegetarian. My friend, David Staton, was there in the Apple booth, and he was telling me about the new server that will be coming out with the next Apple OS. He said that there will be a wiki engine that is Ajax-based. He described it to me, and I kept seeing, in my mind, a slate. Basically, it becomes so intuitive in operation that the wiki web page becomes almost like a slate. That easy to edit, not only with text but with images — chalk in hand.

I also wandered up to a booth in the back, obviously set up by a middle school. There were pictures taken with digital cameras, a laptop computer, some cameras, and I asked the two teachers, sitting behind the table, to explain. They told me about how their classes had connected with other classes from around the world (North America, South America, Africa, from memory), and they exchanged pictures and other information.

So I asked my eternal question, that I ask teachers what are showing off this sort of thing, “Why?” No I entirely expected them to say, “Technology skills! Students need to learn to use digital cameras, and and all this other stuff.”

BUT, that’s not what I heard. They said, “To pass the social studies test!” Now most of the time, “to perform better on the test,” is also the wrong answer (in my opinion). However, I thought about this for a moment, and then asked, “So in the test, your students are asked questions about other countries?”

“Yes!” They replied.

“So you’re helping your students prepare to answer these questions, by having your students ask the world.”

“Yes!”

To these teachers, the classrooms have stopped being containers. These teachers have started seeing through their classroom walls.

It’s moments like these that rock my world!

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.