Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The lighter side of teaching....

We sometimes get too serious or academic about teacher development and forget about the 'fun' we have in teaching.  Let's listen to Rod Bolitho's response to one of the most amusing teaching experiences he's had.

What about you?  What amusing experiences have you had in teaching? Share the lighter side of teaching by adding a comment below.  No registration is needed and you can be anonymous if you want.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Abuse, misuse and no use...where are we heading with mobile technology?

The world is moving so quickly with regard to the abuse and misuse of technology, it makes my head spin.

My wife is in Canada visiting family, so I have taken a deep breath, scraped together some shekels and made the leap into the unknown and asked her to bring back an iPhone 4s--relatively state of the art technology to replace my 'ancient' and 'creaking' five-year-old Nokia 6300. (Where do old phones go to die, I wonder. If you know what I should do with my obsolete cell phone, please advise.)

One of the main reasons for taking this step is that I have noticed so many of my students clutching, stroking and fondling their beloved smart phones, that I thought I had better become at least partially au fait with the technology to keep in touch with the world that they are growing up in. I say this as a total digital immigrant when it comes to mobile technology. How sophisticated my students are in the use of the technology, other than playing games, taking pictures and sending minute-by-minute FACEBOOK updates, I'm not really sure.

They seem 'tech-savvy', but how aware are they of the risks, the pitfalls and the safety issues? At least my students are adults studying at university and can, I hope, make informed decisions about the use, misuse and abuse of their mobile devices. So, I can struggle to keep pace and try to learn to be 'tech-comfy' with this brave new world of mobile devices, assuming that my students know how to look after themselves.

However, my colleagues who teach young learners face a much more serious challenge. Many are still struggling with 'e-safety' on computers, but most are managing as best they can. However, no sooner than we breathe a sigh of relief at having installed NetNannies and sophisticated web site blockers and filters on all the computers at school, then in waltzes an eight-year-old with a 3G smart phone, provided by mom and pop to 'keep in touch'.

The amazing technology aside, the actual use of mobile devices in the immature and unwitting hands of an adolescent brings on a whole new range of issues hitherto unknown. I've been aware of the term 'sexting' for some time, but I thought it would be a passing fad. Seems I was wrong. See http://uk.news.yahoo.com/sexting-putting-girls-risk-charities-warn-235728171.html for a fairly chilling account of what adolescents do with their smart phones in the UK.

 An 2009 article in the BBC cited that "the charity Beatbullying found that 38% of 11-18 year-olds had received a sexually explicit or upsetting text or email." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-17906164  What is even more sobering, is listening to these 'digital-savvy' offspring of the 'digital native' generation reveal their near total ignorance of responsible use of these devices, and the rather obvious ramifications of their actions of misuse or abuse.  You may need to pause and replay if you are not familiar with the way English is (mis)spoken in England, innit?

If you are under the age of 25, I would love to hear your advice to  teachers about what they should be doing to help the young learners become responsible and secure in their use of emerging mobile technologies.

  • Was 'sexting' an issue in your high school years?
  • Do young people today really feel that cyberbullying is an important issue?
  • Can smart phones move beyond just being a toy or a 'plaything' and become a serious piece of technology for learning?
  • If teachers can't keep pace, is there a role for a mentor, an older student, who can help guide younger counterparts in how to use and not abuse the technology of the day?