The screen as teenagers umbilical cord
Just before Christmas (yep, it's been a while, sorry for that) I had a group discussion with the students participating in my experiment Blog in the classroom. It was 50 minutes of great fun to see and talk to the students. Especially talking about my father's teaching style (I had him as a teacher for four years) was amusing. He hasn't changed a bit ;-) I asked the students about their experience using the weblog. They experience the assignment as rather difficult, but using the blog is pretty easy. The only thing that makes them a bit reserved is the way they have to type in their solutions since it's all about algebra (meaning they have to use V for roots and ^ for power, see the blog for examples).
The thing that was most interesting to me was a remark from one of the students that it was easy to check whether something new was published on the blog. It just felt natural to sit behind the computer (mostly at school btw, not at home) surfing around, chatting perhaps and check out the blog in between. Another student told me that it is easier to check to blog, because she often felt 'too lazy' to get her books and notebooks in order to get some homework done. It seems that using an internet based communication tool is far more fluent for today's students.
To me that is the biggest challenge the educational system faces in the next few years. Schools are not dealing with the way teenagers learn. They are taught by people that grew up and finished their education before the internet era. Lots of teachers still lack the skills to teach current teenagers in the way they are familiar with and can understand. Loads of information is coming to them via the internet and everything they do is through the screen: the learning, the reading, downloading and listening to music, writing, designing and most importantly: communicating with the world. And if everything teenagers do is through the screen, why then is there so little taught through the screen??? It's time for a change, it's time to blog! (or to use wiki's or whatever you prefer as long as it's screen wise)