Among very good points about the decline of civility, there was a section of the film that posed the idea that technology has actually caused us to be more isolated because of the loss of human contact.
While this certainly seems true and we can all see many examples of technology affecting society negatively, I would like to emphasize how technology in education has actually brought our profession out of isolation.
From Flat Stanley to The Flat Classroom
The award winning Flat Classroom project is an excellent example of how technologies such as wikis, blogs, email, IM, video chat are all utilized to connect students around the world. In some ways, this is a more purposeful, technologically advanced version of the idea behind the Flat Stanley Project based on the book from 1964. It took the idea of connecting students across the world and brought in into the here and now of 2.0.
PLN's for Teachers and Students
A union of 2.0 tools brings this all together: while I am getting ready to comment on PLN's, someone follows me on Twitter, I check out their blog and they have a recent post about the same topic. So thanks to Simon Pankhurst and the beauty of PLN's and ed tech blogs! The importance of developing a PLN will be one task that teachers who are a part of our upcoming 1:1 project must make a priority. The development of the idea of PLN's represents a noticeable shift in the approach to professional development from a centralized model to one that suits the schedule, lifestyle and interest of any teacher. This is a must read post from Simon Woessner.
Taking strong foundational best practices from educators like Barrie Bennett and pairing them with technology can only serve to improve how we teach. The next level of this is to use 2.0 tools such as iGoogle, RSS aggregators to help students take responsibility for their own learning in my classroom. Teachers also need to get over the idea that they are the great harbingers of knowledge and power and get used to the idea of themselves as being a more of a personal learning guide (PLG- a new acronym is born) working with students. I get a fresh set of students after exams next week with whom I get to share this idea with.
Use Their Gadget to YOUR Advantage
So a kid gets a new cell phone in your class? Ask them to show it to you. A new ipod touch? Spend a couple extra few seconds asking them what apps they have downloaded and suggest they get Pull My Finger! Last fall, my media arts class had done a project called Cellywood (Project summary and evaluation tools will soon to be on the Apple Learning Interchange). Students were able to use their cell phones, digital cameras, iphones and anything else that can fit in their hand to create 90 second movies. They used a blog to suggest "ingredients" that had to be in the film (like cinema sports) and they had 4 classes to storyboard, shoot, edit, add voiceovers, ambient sound and email the movie to me. Students voted on the ingredients using their cell phones and ipod touches with my free account from Polleverywhere. A couple of the exemplary films were sent to a contact of mine at Apple Education and got great reviews. This was the project that created the most buzz among my students so far this year. I will see about getting permission to post them here.
Now, Hall Davidson from Discovery Channel is doing the same thing. I will definitely be getting my students to participate in this one! He is the one who got me on to the idea of using cell phones in the classroom at NECC last summer. His project is called Film on the Fly which will be a highlight of my Saturday, February 7th. I am even thinking of hosting something at my school so students have access to the Macs for editing.
So has there been a decline in civility? Sure.We see it everyday. Let's use the tech at our disposal to connect to our students, promote 21st century skills, and just maybe one or two of them will see the importance of developing their own PLN and will be just a little bit more civil to you knowing you are a tech savvy teacher.