Adapting To Tech-savvy Students
Wednesday - February 25, 2009
Google this or Google that. You can try “ask.com” or “dogpile.com” or many other search engines to find answers to your questions, not to mention downloading movies, songs and games. The Internet and the World Wide Web have opened up new experiences to accessing information. Simply put, it’s a wonderful time to be a youngster. There are so many opportunities available as well as a vast amount of stimuli to keep children occupied and challenged. Granted, there are some hazards to so much accessibility, but it can be handled by prudent parental supervision.
Taking the positive aspect of the new technology presents a real exciting challenge for educators.
Children are so much more fluent in e-speak or cyber-language nowadays. The youngsters of today have created their own cyber-language that most parents don’t understand. They know how to use cell phones for more than just calling someone - they can take pictures, send text messages, play video games and even access the Internet on their cell phones.
I have not talked with an educator who doesn’t agree that, when it comes to using the computer, children are becoming more familiar with programs like Excel and PowerPoint. Some of them can create and develop slide shows when conducting presentations in class. And they are more proficient in using the computer at younger ages, too. There is currently a commercial in which a 4-year old child is able to perform functions such as e-mailing pictures to her family. I’m sure some people think it a false representation. But, let’s face it, children know a lot more than we give them credit for.
Under the circumstances, it must be somewhat difficult for these high-tech students to sit in a classroom all day while being taught from a textbook or from concepts written on a blackboard. It is not surprising that many of these students might be bored silly with such antiquated methods. Possessing the skills to access information immediately has created situations where the average student needs more intellectual stimulation.
How will schools adapt to teaching these students in a manner that will hold their attention and instill in them the concepts they need to acquire? It appears to me we need to develop new ways of teaching and incorporate some of the high-tech methods into the classroom. We can’t just “think outside the box,” we need to ask the students to help create these new boxes of learning.
Some schools are already trying to meet this new challenge. Distance learning is becoming more prevalent as an educational venue. On Oahu, there is a charter school where students receive and submit their assignments online. They do interact with their teachers for a short time during the week, but their “classroom” is not a traditional one. It won’t be long before the majority of public schoolchildren will be taught online. It’s just a matter of time.
There is no question that changing the way we do business will take time and money. What better time than right now with all kinds of change and stimulus packages being assigned by the federal government? Change comes at a cost, but teachers are innovative and creative and can adapt. Given the opportunity, there is little question that they would be able to discover and implement new ways to teach their students.
Thanks to the Internet, the methodology of arousing youngster’s intellectual curiosity will never be the same. Blackboards, chalk, erasers and books are being replaced by computer screens, laser pointers and PowerPoint presentations.
It’s a new world, and our law-makers must try to educate public school students with the skills they need to compete in a global economy. If teachers of future generations want to succeed, it would be a good idea for them to become a certified webologist as soon as they can. If not, they will become obsolete.
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