Would you like to understand our culture better than you already do? Does technology scare you most of the time? If your answer is yes, you need to embrace some of the latest tools that make life simpler.
We all seem to think that if something is more advanced, it is more difficult. But technology is always becoming more user friendly and AI (artificial intelligence) is starting to take the thinking completely out of the equation. This could be frustrating and even disturbing if you call in a pizza order and the Smut Hut answers the phone, (instead of Pizza Hut). The voice recognition was not quite tuned in on 1-800-FREE-411, but don’t give up on things like this because technology is improving all the time.
Scientists are researching the voice recognition sector heavily to be utilized in commercial markets, but education reaps benefits as well. There is a large growth of interactive ESOL based software that will help your non-english students tighten up their English much faster than some teachers working one on one with children.
Let me give you another example of why we need to embrace rather than ignore the changes that are taking place at a dizzying pace. Last year I invited parents to the school to learn about Internet Safety. We promoted this event heavily in parent newsletters, phone calls, and even the marquee in front of the building and offered dinner for free! Our school is in a small county, but we have 750 students in PreK through the 5th grade. We offered babysitting services for the young ones while parents listened to our local internet crimes expert from the Sheriff’s department speak about online safety. Well, pizza boxes were stacked high and only 4 parents showed up. I was pretty disappointed with the turn out, but nevertheless we scared the families that did show up so bad that they were ready to unplug their computers and cancel their internet service as soon as they got home.
We took a completely different approach this year and when my administrator asked me if I’d like to speak to the parents at our FCAT parent night, I didn’t hesitate to sign on. I spoke to parents for an hour about Internet Tips that can help parents understand what their children are seeing at school and how to make computer use at home a productive endeavor. This year the whole tech lab was full and parents left smiling. My point is this. If we want to get parents or educators involved in children’s lives with technology, we have to embrace technology rather than use scare tactics.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that the sherriff department in our county teaches children and parents about the dangers of the internet. There are certainly things we must prepare our youth for encountering, but we can’t lock up the computer and expect kids to stay offline, when the simplest cell phone surfs the internet 24-7 and wi-fi and satellite signals are broadcast in even the most backwoods locations.
The internet has evolved to a much more interactive platform now (Web 2.0). Our youth are already chatting on even the most innocent websites with other visitors, commenting on blogs or wikis, downloading media, uploading media and they do this completely second nature. As educators we need to dive in to some of the very useful tools available today.
There are many free resources available for parents and teachers for utilizing new technology in the classroom or at home. Visit my wiki to see my top 10 tools to utilize for Young Learners on the Web and see Jason Flom’s recommended sites for Web 2.0. We have available perhaps the greatest platform for sharing ideas worldwide at our very fingertips. If you are still scared of this stuff, visit perhaps the best resource for safe surfing that I’ve found on the internet at www.commonsensemedia.org. The company that put that site together all about embracing the good stuff! Love, Not Fear!