Reflection on FETC posted to online mentoring group

11 02 2005

The following was a reflection that I posted to my online mentoring group regarding FETC and TCEA.

I know that many of you are currently at or just returning from the Austin conference. I just returned from the Florida conference. This was a regional conference much like TCEA. I kept hearing about how large the Florida conference would be. While it was impressive and informative, I don’t think it has anything over the TCEA conference.

It might be fun to share some of the things that we saw and learned at these conferences. In Florida, the wireless was everywhere and everyone was using it. I am sure that the future will be based around additional wireless devices as well as greater mobility. While there were many presentations that seemed to be the usual fare- creative use of PowerPoint in class, WebQuest use and design etc., there were several that really stood out in my mind. Having been doing a lot of reading on current learning theories, the presentations that resonated with me related around the following: computers for every student, students taking a greater role in constructing knowledge using the computer as a thinking machine, proliferation of wireless everywhere and implications relating to education and elsewhere in life.

One of the more interesting presentations was not so much about technology as it was about what our students will really need to know in order to succeed in the world they are entering. In the past it was what you knew. You had to be able to crunch incredibly difficult math problems, keep vast amounts of knowledge in your head so that you could function in the workforce. The work force our kids are entering is very different. The most highly sought after skills will be related to your ability to get information, and then do something with it. It will be a world of not what you know but that you know where to get the information you need and then know what you can do with that information. This is where the technology comes in and as Pappert describes it, the “thinking machine”.

This really causes me to wonder what the future classroom should look like. Not just physically but pedagogically. Something for all of us to chew on.

I really didn’t find anything earth shattering on the trade-show floor. There were the usual vendors selling the usual stuff. It did make an observation though, the vendors selling software for subject area help, state testing (so glad we don’t have to deal with that) and the likes, seem to be missing the boat. Many were saying how their product helps meet the NCLB needs yet little if any of it really matched up with current thoughts on learning theories and the vision of education and educational technology as discussed by the visionaries on the bleeding edge. I had this feeling of walking among vendors selling “snake oil”- “we have the cure for all your educational wows”. Maybe it is just me but that is getting old.

I am looking forward to what each of you have picked up at TCEA. I wish I was able to go this year but with all the other things going on in my life at the moment, I really couldn’t afford the additional time away.

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