Sunday, November 4, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

Maybe I am naive, but this comment on a recent student survey I conducted about using wikis in their AP class took me by surprise, especially based on most of the things we assume about this generation of students:

not make it so that you have to go on every night to check what is happening. It is turning into something like facebook or myspace just with history. i dont know about everyone but some people dont have time to check the internet everynight sometimes more than once.

Are our students as "connected" as we assume? This quote, while isolated, makes me wonder about the way this assignment is structured, and the way this student is relating to the assignment. Plus, are we taking for granted the fact that using something like a wiki is not a panacea.

Just another example of why it is NEVER about the technology, but ALWAYS about the teaching.

Flickr image credit: "Wiki Wiki Teriyaki," from Parvati's photostream

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Mr Mont said...


This is the number one reason that people give me all the time for not getting on board with ICT in education.... the kids are not as connected as you think.

Its a good question. But how do we deal with it?


Ryan Bretag said...

Hey Pat:

I just blogged about this reality check and am going to add your post to the list.

As Russel asked, how do we deal with it? I think it starts with be honest about our passions and taking a realistic look at students, education, and learning.

Dan said...

I appreciate you raising this quote, Patrick, even though you could've dismissed it as an outlier.

I've got students on a Moodle install, answering a weekly picture question, picking up assignments now and then. Nothing too intensive.

Buy-in has been weak for me and I think it has largely to do with the limited scope of the online coursework. I'm not sure how your situation is but I'd love to believe that if every teacher was connecting online, posting help, tips, and assignments, with Moodle collating them all nicely, it'd seem like more of a boon, less of a chore, to our students. As it is, it's like having five friends on five different social networks.

Which is to say, I think there exists a valley somewhere in between zero teacher participation and total where those comments won't be uncommon.

Patrick Higgins said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting. I had asked the students the usual questions: what do you like about using the wiki, what would you change about the project, would you recommend this to other teachers you have, etc.

How do we deal with this? In my book, we expose them to everything we view as important to their education, and let them think about it. We show them the relevance of these technologies as they apply to their current and future lives.

What this response, and a few others, showed me was that there is a lot of work to do in regards to teaching that is taken to a different level with wiki technology, or blogging technology, or anything else out there that we find.

Bach said...


Just to play symantics...I argue it is never about the technology, sometimes about the teaching, but always about the learning.

I teachers can teach while using the "coolest tools" but if the net result is limited understanding and knowledge construction on the partof students, know the rest.


Patrick Higgins said...


I am never one to balk at the power of semantics, so your addition is welcome.

It IS always about the learning.