Unpacking assumptions: using tech in science and math classes

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on Unpacking assumptions: using tech in science and math classes

Unpacking my assumptions:
What technology use ought to look like in the science and math learning environments.

Sometimes I think this type of question is not appropriate for me. I’m hampered by “the curse of knowledge,” the problem that experts have in explaining things that are simple to them and difficult to others.

I’m not trying to say that I’m an expert educator – far from it. But I’m an expert user of technology … to the point where it is not “technology” to me. You understand … “technology” is often a word used for things that we don’t understand. Things that we use ordinarily … are just tools.

With that in mind, using technology in science and math learning environments would be very ordinary, very normal to me. There would be very little to remark upon ….

  • all students would have laptops with integrated cameras, microphones, speakers
  • all students would work through configurable simulations of key concepts
  • all students would have full-time access to all the knowledge (and cruft) on the internet
  • students would track their own learning in a public learning log, possibly using blog or wiki software
  • anything that students say is within their core competency, they can be tested on
  • tests are given one person at a time, whenever the students are ready
  • teachers are there to teach concepts, lead labs, and ensure students are roughly on track with a learning schedule that will ensure they learn all needed concepts for state/provincial standards
  • frequently, students who have learned a concept would take a turn explaining it to the class. Who could do this and how often would be loosely coordinated schoolwide, so that as much as possible all students get opportunities to present in areas of their strengths
  • students would interact with others in learning communities all over the world via Skype. Sometimes a distance or foreign student might lead a discussion on a certain concept. (Note: I’m in conversation almost daily with members of my team in Italy, Norway, Ukraine, China, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.) The school would seek out 5-6 learning institutions at similar levels and timetables so there’s a baseline of collaborators to start with, but students could talk to anyone if they’re on-topic.
  • teachers would frequently bring in social media output of practicing scientists/mathemeticians who are web2.0 producers when appropriate, helping to show relevance

Note – off the top of my head, I’d think that science and math instruction could be very different.

Mathematics, in particular, can benefit from a certain amount of repetition to drive home knowing how more than knowing what, whereas there can be a bigger dollop of knowing what in science. This practice can be on a computer, but it can also be on a blackboard, whiteboard, or good-old-fashioned dead tree.


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