Monday, February 02, 2009

Technology causes decline in critical thinking???

Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis?

Here's my question: Is it technology that is producing a decline in critical thinking or is it the way that educators are utilizing technology that is producing the decline in critical thinking??

In our After-School Academy, I teach a technology class. Last semester the kids were tasked with creating/designing the pages for the cookbook utilizing Microsoft Publisher. I challenged them to think about the different categories of food and find clip art and internet pictures that would fit in those categories. They were insistent about creating their own recipes to include. They figured out how to make colored text boxes, make their words into WordArt, and download pictures from the internet, and then taught each other their new skills (in fact, there were several times where I had to ask them to show me what they were doing and how they did it). The kids have also blogged and created their own photoshows.

The problem isn't the kids. The problem isn't the technology. The problem is those of us who are older, didn't grow up with technology, and don't know (or care) how to utilize it. We are the ones who are putting our kids at a disadvantage.

I know some amazing educators who are writing grants and implenting innovative uses of Google Earth, Google Maps, blogging, etc. into their classrooms. But I also know educators who refuse to try anything new and school districts who block every website possible, fearing the unknown. For some kids, the only technology they receive is practicing taking standardized tests on the computer. That has become the schools' way of tapping into the kids' interest in technology.

The graduate students (future teachers) and professors' I encounter who resist and refuse technology amaze (and frustrate) me. Their resistance and refusal to utilize it puts the children in their classrooms and our future at risk.

Technology (and much of it is free, once you have access to the internet) has opened doors of communication and innovation. We can email, text, IM, Twitter, and blog. We can utilize social networking sites, play games with someone from the other side of the world, create videos, adjust photos, and create our own website. Within seconds, we can view countries we can't afford to visit and have access to any kind of information for any question we might have. It even allows us to communicate with the parents of our school children through email or text messages--a direct line of communication that wasn't available 10 years ago.

Technology is not going away. We can dig our heels in, resist it, and find every way to tell the world that technology is damaging our children's minds. OR We can dive in, incorporate it into our everyday lives, and help ourselves and our children move into the future.

What are some innovative ways you use technology? What are some free sites (or reasonably priced software) you would recommend and how do you utilize them? I would love to know what's out there so I can utilize it and pass the info on to other parents, kids, and teachers.
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