Sunday, March 22, 2009

Salon 1 - The Judgement of Thamus

The following excerpts come from the TEAM Salon PB Wiki.

During the seventeenth century, Parisian artists, poets and thinkers regularly gathered in "Salons" to talk about ideas. Some of the most influential thinkers of the day met purely for the joy of conversation and for the pleasure of thinking together. Out of these meetings came much of the cultural change that occurred during that time in history.

In TEAM, I will participate in three different "Salon" discussions, led by Canadian instructor, Brenda Dyck.

My first salon was a meeting of the minds regarding “The Judgement of Thamus” by Dr. Neil Postman.

"What happens to us when we become infatuated with and then seduced by them [new technologies]? Do they free us or imprison us? Do they improve or degrade democracy? Do they make our leaders more accountable or less so? Our system more transparent or less so? Do they make us better citizens or better consumers? Are the trade-offs worth it? If they’re not worth it, yet we still can’t stop ourselves from embracing the next new thing because that’s just how we’re wired, then what strategies can we devise to maintain control? Dignity? Meaning?" ~ Andrew Postman , 2005 (son of Dr. Neil Postman)

"In what sense do new technologies alter our understanding of the purpose of education, teaching and learning and the role of the teacher and student?"

As new technologies avail themselves to the general public there are teachers who get excited about the tools and wonder how they can integrate them into their teaching and learning. On the flipside, there are also teachers who couldn’t care less. Personally, I believe I’m wired with a passion for new tools. I’m not consumed by them, but I enjoy the conversation and demos that are shared by my PLN when a new tool comes along. New tools can be cool, but I am not infatuated with their being. It’s not the tool that makes or breaks the learning, it’s how the new technologies are being used to enhance the curriculum. Even with these new tools, the purpose of education remains the same. As educators, we still expose the students to the grade level content and address the required standards for our states. With new tools, however, I feel more like a facilitator of learning than a sage on the stage.

"In what sense do new technologies alter the structure of our interests (the things we think about, the symbols we think with, the nature of community- the arena where thoughts develop)?"

Since I have adopted a passion for educational technology, the way I run my classroom has changed. While I still present content to my students, I feel more like an instructional coach than a lecturer. The technology has altered my classroom into a cooperative community of partners involved in more project based learning. The technology has transformed the way information is shared, and the content seems more integrated and fluid. This change in education has altered the way students collaborate with their peers and how they showcase their work. I have found this shift is more motivating to the children and has helped to level the playing field among diverse learners. It is much easier to differentiate in a class that uses technologies, than in a class that does not.

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