I was born in 1991, the debut of the internet rage. My life correlates with technology--we grew up together. My teachers ranged from those who used only overhead projectors to classes that depend entirely on Internet applications, blogs, and online interaction. Recently, on Mike Lemon's blog and Kelly Walsh's blog (these posts), I've reflected on my experience with technology in the classroom. Here's what I've discovered.
My main concern is the sheer volume of new media available versus real time. Certainly, most students today are familiar with facebook and use it, but I'd never even heard of Google Wave or millions of other applications.
I think Dr. Burton's approach in British Lit History was particularly effective because it utilized facebook. Most of us had facebook already, and it was very easy to incorporate a facebook post into our lives. In contrast, his digital civilization class I'm in now is using a "canvas" that is new to me. I'll certainly learn how to use it soon enough, and I don't think it will affect my performance in the course, but the mass of options online worries me.
It's easy to be overwhelmed by online options. In high school I was bombarded by textbook websites and online study guides/practice quizzes/flashcards/links/you name it, and it was far more than I could take. In response, I shut myself off from the internet options because there were too many. I did well in high school, but I am now wary of the dangers of too many options and too many resources.
Certainly, with unlimited time, I could peruse the companion websites for my textbooks and drill myself on the virtual flashcards regularly. However, realistically, I am a student, and my time is precious to me. No matter how high the “gee whiz” factor of classroom technology, I will likely not use it unless I must. It is simply impractical. I cannot spend time lazily exploring the educational possibilities of a class web page when I have invested in so many people and responsibilities. In the end, even when I have constant access to the endless wealth of online knowledge, I have time for only that which matters most to me–those technologies that are crucial to success in my classes.
Perhaps I just hadn't learned to discern those specific online resources that would have supplemented my learning beautifully--and maybe the next generation of students that you and I teach will have that ability inherently.
However, when a teacher truly incorporates technology into the classroom and uses it properly, it can be an indispensable tool for me. The key is to make it a part of the class, not an afterthought.