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Here on this blog I hope to get a conversation going amongst students, teachers, administrators, and parents about who, what, when, why, and where we should teach technology skills for the 21st century. I am technology teacher at Truckee High School in Truckee, CA and currently teach classes like digital media, e-learning, applications, and keyboarding -- yes...still important! :) Please Join the Conversation!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Online Collaboration and Sharing - Good or Bad for Education?

Many sites are now available to students and teachers which allow the sharing of information and for collaboration.  However, as with any new technology, it also brings to the forefront other issues, concerns, and questions about whether this is good or bad for student learning.  For instance, should students be able to share/sell notes for classes online like at http://www.noteutopia.com .  There are also sites for teachers to share/sell lesson plans online like http://www.teacherspayteachers.com . Some might say that this will result in a decrease of learning since students might skip out on more classes and just buy the notes online.  However, I think we all knew people who use to do that already when we were in school and just borrowed the notes from a willing classmate.  NoteUtopia and sites like it obviously make it much easier (although costly) since you have such a large database of notes to select from; specific to your school and professor.  There are also similar legal questions around this issue similar to those that arose from music sharing sites like Napster.  People were already sharing CDs before but now they could share with people from across the globe that they did or did not know.  But, with note sharing sites, students are the original creators or authors of the material in question unlike music.  That said, colleges in CA were not OK with this practice and recently got a judge to issue a "cease and desist" order to this company from allowing this kind of note sharing in CA.  It will be an interesting court battle to follow and see what happens.  It seems the colleges claim that the notes are really not the property of the students but rather, the professor whom gave the lecture.  I think that is going to be a difficult argument to support.  Read more:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20017000-93.html?tag=mncol

It seems ironic that we would limit our students abilities to use various tools like web 2.0 sites like NetUtopia when more and more of our school faculties are being trained in Professional Learning Community models; where the sharing and exchange of information is continuous and ongoing.  In a sense, our test or exam is as teachers to help our students succeed academically (I would argue that it is much broader than that but it is the current focus) and we are being encouraged to utilize whatever we can to accomplish this.  So, should we allow or expect anything less from our kids?

So, this brings up the question; do we expect our students to internalize the academic content or do we want them to have the skills, knowledge, and tools to acquire this knowledge?  I think the later is probably a more marketable trait on a resume when seeking employment but educators will have to continue having this conversation to fully understand how it will impact learning in our classrooms across the country.  We all know that certain cultural literacy and academic knowledge is important but it may be silly to focus too much of our time and energy on helping kids remember and learn facts that they could look up on their smart phones in a few seconds.  There is no doubt in my mind that the classroom methodologies of today are going to have to transform to integrate modern technology and the skill sets that go with it.  If we do not, I fear we will be ill equipping our students for the world in which they will be competing in for jobs. 

Check out NoteUtopia!

1 comment:

  1. I think the internet opens up opportunities that weren't previosly there. Many of these sites make life easier for us, but unfortanetly there is always another door open for abuse. If people and teachers can collaborate, why shouldn't students beable too?


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