Monday, 1 October 2007

"Dont you lot use the internet for anything educational?"

This was the interesting question posed to my history class today by Mrs H. The class' reaction was as expected, to her surprise, with comments like, "Unles Bebo and MSN are classed as educational, no." -- "Not unless I have to." and possibly the worst, "Ocht naw, dae ah look yen on thaem brainy folk?"

This sent me into a blog-post-purpose day dream for the rest of the lesson. What do I do on the Internet when I spend hours of my free time glued to the screen? What do other people my age do? Could teachers use the internet as a way of education? Of course, the answers to the first two questions are easy.

1)I usually send my computer into hyper-drive by opening far too many windows at once and carrying out numerous tasks simultaneously. In other words; I chat on bebo, I upload pictures from my phone, I download music onto my MP3, I discuss on one or two forums, I share conversations with many different people over MSN, I potter away with my blog, I listen to music and more often than not my Photo shop is running in the background making some form of pixel-art. There's the odd homework task in the mix too.
-Educational relevance? Not much.

2) Most teenagers at Stranraer Academy (not including the PGs as we are indeed in a league of our own, Shaun will explain if he comments :P) spend their online life worshiping BEBO and MSN, and would willingly admit so. This includes; racing to get the latest skins, newest tricks and tips, newest versions, the first to have an original name or the most "loves." This is normally done by talking in the worst language ever known to man- where vowels don't exist, punctuation is overused and the idea of capital letters is but an urban myth. Do they realise how bad grammatical and spelling mistakes look online? No. IT ISNA3 KWL TA3 TAK RYT!!!1
-Educational relevance? Not much.

The third answer is rather different. Both the above answers wouldn't come under the "education" bracket for most teachers in school, including Mrs H, as stereotypical educational use of the Internet is researching a topic elaborately using as many pie charts as possible. But, in my opinion, I feel this could be changed. The Internet is a vast network in which there is so much to learn from, giving the right tools to access it, and could well be turned into one of the greatest teacher-helping pupil-friendly textbooks ever.

Introduced to me by Mrs O'Neill, Wikispaces and blogs are but two of the ways schools could get a little bit of technology into their classrooms -provided they have the know-how and the willingness to do so. I personally find this to be great, as its far more enjoyable than copying out of textbooks. They would allow more for kids who are absent or if the teacher happens to be absent or even just in fun homework tasks, to adapt to learning in different media and environments.

Our school however, appears to be stuck in the days when PowerPoint presentations were the best and only way of teaching. Maybe one day things'll change and ideas about interactive school communities wont just be resigned to History period day-dreams.

[Of course, being one of those quiet invisible type of people sitting in the back of the class, I didn't refer to any of my ideas about what the Internet could be used for in this certain class, for four reasons; 1) The fear of having to answer that dreaded question, "What's a blog?", 2) Getting quizzed on what I post on my blog, and 3) I have a fear of anyone else finding my blog.]


David said...


Having looked at many of the entries in your blog any chance I can clone you and stick you in my S4 class to encourage them!? Some excellent commentary! I was looking at your entry for 1st October about your views on the Internet. I am currently doing lots of presentations to staff and local authority trying to get people interested in the benefits of the Internet rather than the problems and pitfalls which too many tend to concentrate on and thus deny students the chance to work THEIR way. If I change the names to protect the innocent/guilty (!) would it be possible for me to use your piece as an example 'Look what sort of excellent stuff our young people come out with' etc? I would run it past you first obviously.

PS You can blame Mrs O'Neill for pointing the way to your efforts! I read her every day as well!

David Terron
English Teacher
Elgin Academy

David said...

Sorry - forgot email!

Jemma said...

Hey David!

This is soo odd having someone new read my blog, not quite sure what to say! (Yes, speechless, I know, highly unbelivable)

I´m in Spain at the moment but I will email you as soon as I get home with regards to using my stuff. I´d be delighted for you to to do so, feel free to take anything from my blog you find useful or funny or even a bad example of what NOT to do whilst online. :)

Yes, I´m rather addicted to Mrs O´Neill´s blog too. Its great, as is she. ROCK ON MRS O´NEILL I say. :D

David said...

Thanks Jemma. Between you, Mrs O'Neill and a few others we might just drag the rest of the educational system into the 21st Century! Enjoy the rest of your holiday - my wife returned from Majorca at 0600hrs this morning, brown, tired and vowing to go on a diet blaming the all inclusive hotel for letting her eat too much! Maybe next time I will be allowed to go with her instead of all her girlie friends!

Jemma said...

Haha, Menorca is a very lovely place indeeed. Cala En Bosch is brilliant this time of year. I must say I was rather the same when I got back..

Super!Bloggers? Has a ring to it methinks! :D