This summer I begin work on a practical prospectus, a road map for my thesis, which I will begin writing this fall. I plan to use this blog as a repository of ideas and a place to make my thinking more transparent.
I am told by my graduate advisor that all good research begins with a question. I know this! I’ve led 9th grade English students through the research process more times than I can count.
So, why is this so difficult?
After a long weekend of “creative procrastination,” this is my first stab at a description of the problem followed by some preliminary questions:
Problem: The problem simply stated is there is an exciting new world of collaborative and interactive tech tools that is expanding at breakneck speed, and teachers and schools are struggling to keep pace with the change.
This is nothing new. For as long as I have been a teacher, the complaint about technology has been, “When do I have the time to learn all this new stuff, and if I learn it, will there be the support I need to keep it functional and accessible for me and my students during the school day?”
What is new about the problem of technology and curriculum integration is that now the technology is highly functional, reliable, cheap, easy to use, and easy to access (as easy as a cell phone in the palm of your hand). How is this a problem? Well, it is an especially interesting and compelling problem that because of technology’s ease and ubiquity, our students are increasingly more “expert” at it than we are! Adolescents are using technology outside the confines of the traditional classroom, often in unsupervised, unregulated contexts.
We regularly hear and read about young people’s use and abuse of technology, their absolute dependence on it and near obsession with it. Stories abound about Internet sex predators, unflattering YouTube videos, and slanderous MySpace pages. These serve to make jumpy teachers and school administrators feel even less inclined to adapt.
Question: How might I tap into technology in ways that add relevance and rigor to my course content and, at the same time, teach young people to engage more critically and responsibly with all forms of new and electronic media?
Problem: Many of the new, web-based tools (wikis, blogs, file-sharing and social networking sites – what Will Richardson calls the “read/write web”) enable us to research, create, and communicate in new and exciting ways. As a language arts educator with interests in journalism and media education, I see a natural fit into my curriculum.
Question: What does “Classroom 2.0” look like in a language arts context? Who is doing it successfully? How are they doing it?
Problem: But reading, writing, researching, and communicating are broad instructional objectives, which suggest that technology integration should not be happening in isolation but collaboratively, across disciplines. Going back to the “rigor and relevance” I mentioned before, this seems to me to be the only way to have a lasting impact on learning. In other words, the “silo” approach to implementation ultimately won’t work. “Classroom 2.0” must be supported school-wide, with progressive policy and pedagogy.
Question: What does “School 2.0” look like? Who is doing it successfully? How are they doing it?