Sunday, February 12, 2006

NCCE 2006 | What is your philosophy?

I started the conference with David "The Shirt" Moursund's session, "Developing a Philosophy of Computers in Education".

Moursund used the session to walk us through his thought process for using information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education. Questioning is a critical component to this process, and he put many questions on the table.

One of the questions that really struck me was "What is your 'authenticity' philosophy?" There was a time when not memorizing was a radical idea. The use of pencil and paper meant facts, ideas, and opinions no longer needed to be memorized. This, understandably, shook the memorization approach and changed the nature of education.

Now, the computer has changed the professional world to the point where it is difficult to work without open access to information. How does this change what "authentic" means when applied to work being done? to learning? to assessment?

So, Moursund asked, is letting the computer do something "cheating"? If part of our goal as educators is to prepare students for the world they will be trying to make a living in, are we doing a disservice whenever we limit their access to information?

This brings me back to an ongoing lunch table discussion of the importance of teaching facts. In a world where facts can be looked up in seconds and frequently don't require specialized texts to access, I see no reason to memorize facts, and I find making students memorize facts a waste of time. The facts we find interesting and/or use frequently, we internalize. If we don't use a piece of information frequently or see any value in knowing, there is no reason to memorize it.

What I am more interested in spending time on is the use of facts, ideas, and opinions to create something new. This is becoming an important facet of my philosophy--the use of ICT needs to fit into a process of accessing, understanding, and creating.

This idea of creating something new, of "adding value", of extending the conversation should be the beginning of my philosophy. How is the use of technology going to help my students bring something new to the conversation?

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