Texas Bluebonnet Writing Project Blog

Friday, April 27, 2007

When you outlaw iPods, then only the outlaws will have iPods.

Or some version of this well known quote. Where am I going with this? Well...
Schools say iPods becoming tool for cheaters

Kemp said she does not have hard statistics on the phenomenon but said it is not unusual for schools to ban digital media players."I think it is becoming a national trend," she said. "We hope that each district will have a policy in place for technology -- it keeps a lot of the problems down."

This quote from a CNN article got me to thinking about us moving backwards instead of forwards. Why do we start throwing bans at things that we have yet to teach students about? Some things (like weapons, drugs, inappropriate clothing, etc) I understand. But if we are talking about an educational tool, how can we just make a statement like above begging for universal bans?

It reminds me of one of my son's animated movies where the beetle is blindly flying into the bug zapper and some of the other bugs are yelling at him, "Don't fly into the light!" And his only response was a dreamily, "I can't help it." Then ZZZZZZZZZ, and it was all over. Why do we act that way? We blindly fly into the light of reverse educational theory. We do everything we can to not prepare our kids for the future because, heaven forbid, they enjoy the tools they get to use?

Have we yet to offer ethics , values, and expectation courses for the use of these items? Can we not stop to think how we could utilize what students really enjoy using as an educational tool? Are there going to be cheaters still? Sure. But there always has been and always will be. Let me just share one word of advice in this area: MONITOR. If students know a teacher is going to go back and sit down at the desk to read a book or newspaper during a test, it doesn't matter what they use to cheat with because it will be easy.

Quit muttering the political rantings press so love to hear. Share, instead, stories of beneficial use and positive outcomes about turning what seems to be a negative into a very beneficial positive.

Consider this from Duke University (in the same article):

The music players proved to be invaluable for some courses, including music, engineering and sociology classes, said Tim Dodd, executive director of The Center for Academic Integrity at Duke. At Duke, incidents of cheating have declined over the past 10 years, largely because the community expects its students to have academic integrity, he said.

"Trying to fight the technology without a dialogue on values and expectations is a losing battle," Dodd said. "I think there's kind of a backdoor benefit here. As teachers are thinking about how technology has corrupted, they're also thinking about ways it can be used productively."


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Friday, April 13, 2007

A little something to think about as you sign your new teaching contract for the coming year(s).

I just wanted to share a little piece of a post by Vicki Davis. She is starting another international project based within a wiki as the collaborative tool for the students from different countries. Anyway, as an agent of positive, affective change, here is the part that caught my eye (emphasis mine):
  • Educational institutions value paper.. Businesses are cutting it out.
  • Educational institutions value face to face interaction. Businesses are promoting virtual interactions.
  • Educational institutions value peer review journals many of which take 2 years to publish. Businesses value peer reviewed blogs and wikis to promote rapid information exchange.
  • Educational institutions look down on many internet sources...things take time. Businesses want information at the end of their fingertips... time is money.
  • Educational institutions want to take away gadgets and keep students from using them. Businesses want to give their employees more gadgets and expect them to figure it out.
  • Educational institutions often want students to learn before they create. Businesses want students to learn as they create!
I think this is a nice, short list that clearly states exactly why we need changes in the way we view instruction and learning in our classrooms. Sure, with how we teach now kids can pass the "test" but can they make it in the real world that is devoid of standardized tests to prove mastery? If one of your students is standing over you as the doctor in the ER trying to decide which procedure to do on you to save your life, will she have to have a highlighter, peppermints, a bottle of water, and a TAKS game plan to save you?

Can your students think collaboratively?
Can your students think independently?
Can your students think conceptually?
Can your students think productively?
Can your students think creatively?
Can your students think critically?

Can we think about doing it any different then we currently do?

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