Sunday, August 28, 2011

Children and Tech Series - Post #3

Continuing on with the posts (ages later) from my Children and Technology" Course. Want to get it all up before school starts!

Internet submarines and coherence in writing
Monday, January 24th, 2011

Chapters 2 and 4 of Meaningful Learning with Technology by Jonassen, Howland, Marra & Crismond (2008) focused on the issues of information literacy and production. Technology offers us many ways to amass and interact with information, and also to produce works that are hopefully informed, creative and relevant.

The Internet is a vast sea of information, and you really have to be intentional about how you navigate it’s waters. An image of some kind of exploratory vessel, like an amazing submarine kept coming to mind as I read through Chapter 2, which is basically about learning effective ways of exploring the Internet and how to use it as a learning tool. Key to this is the basic premise of having clear ideas of what you’re looking for, why you are looking for it, and how you’ll use it to create deeper understanding for yourself and others. This demands real critical thinking, a hot topic these days and for a very good reason. Critical thinking is a learned skill that we aren’t really helping children learn – and Chapter 2 highlights why critical thinking and engaged learning are critical issues that need to be supported starting as early as possible.

While the Internet can provide an amazing and interesting arena for critical thinking and engaged learning to happen, it takes some pretty involved and skillful scaffolding on the part of teachers and educators to make sure that learners develop the basic tools so that they can make their own submarines to help them navigate their way through the endless Internet soup. I wonder about what shapes this could take in early learning environments – with and without computers – and I’m excited to think more about this and hear what people have to say.

Chapter 4 is really about writing, and how technology can support developing good writing. I believe that it can, but again it’s something that necessarily requires skillful scaffolding on the part of the educator to help hone learners skills and get the rules of good writing down into practice. The ease with which online web publishing makes it for people to get their writing out there for an audience (myself included) doesn’t guarantee that good writing is a given. Quantity is not quality, and practice doesn’t make perfect – you could just be practicing bad writing over and over again.

The great thing about web publishing, and the chapter talks about this, is the ease with which writers can now share with peers. This is awesome, as it allows writers to work in a collaborative way not really experienced before in history. Writing has been predominantly seen as a solitary craft – but sharing your work on the web for intentional collaborative editing is an amazing opportunity to draw the author out of their silo and hopefully find a supportive community with which to develop their work. This relies on the quality of the interactions with peers, and is again something that needs skillful facilitation.

I need to research Poetry Forge more, cuz it kinda scares me.

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