eTech Ohio 2010: Tuesday Morning Panel

Some notes from the Tuesday morning panel, featuring John Merrow, Gail Matthews-DeNatale, Dennis Harper, and Lalitha Vasudevan. The speakers had some interesting comments about education in general. I may add some of my own thoughts later….

Lecture halls are becoming data-driven environments that are changing students before our very eyes… Is this true?

 Matthews: we are inundated with data. Classrooms aren’t changing as fast as the world around us. All of us are creating lots of data? Are we taking enough time to step back and look at what we are producing?

 Harper: data should not be driving education, students should. If a teacher says a student learned something, why do we need to give him/her a test, made by somebody who doesn’t know that student.

Vasudevan: there are also daily data, teacher observations. So the question is: what do we consider to be data?

Matthews: what do we consider to be data? And who is looking at the evidence? The teacher? The student? What evidence are we asking students to provide? Who gets to look at it and decide?

Harper: Every change in history has been brought by youth: Civil Rights movement, Women’s Rights. Youth have to be the agents of change. Schools make up 93% = youth. We need to utilize that (i.e. use their expertise). You don’t put kids entirely in charge; teacher like a coach.

Matthews: Adult role: mentor. We need to teach kids technology/media literacy just like we teach them how to read and write.

Harper: We complain that students do trite stuff on the web. But we don’t teach them how to use the web well (read and write), because it’s not on the test…

Vasudevan: We need to change the way we look at adolescents and their behaviors. Maybe we don’t trust them enough. What we consider to be off-task may not be (example of PSP use as extra hard drive for video editing project).

Matthews: We need to express more of an interest in what kids do with technology, which may not be the same as what adults do with it. So how do teachers get to this kind of trust? Relationships.

Vasudevan: Curriculum often stifles relationships (it’s too scripted).

Harper: Today, technology is doing things to kids: keeping them off the web, testing, drill and practice. Students should be doing things with technology if we want to foster creativity and innovation.

Empower communities by empowering youth (health, nutrition, even before they get to school). Does that mean adults have to give up power?

Matthews: Students already have it, adults need to know when to get out of the way. Example of teachers letting students use mobile phones to video record science experiments.

Vasudevan: Most of the spaces that students can use though are outside of school. Pedagogy of collegiality, where kids have a say in the decision-making process.

So can schools change enough to give up control? What has to change?

Matthews: Importance of communities. Building relationships between schools and communities.

Issue of testing: we test kids to rate schools, property values….. we test too much, with bad tests. Companies spend more money on tests for products than education is spending on testing kids.

What do we create in schools to make things better? Meaningful, relevant curriculum, teacher/student assessment (no one else). No more high stakes tests.

Image Credit: eTech Ohio: http://www.etech.ohio.gov/images/conference/2010/2010_ohio_etc_logo

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