Gadgets in the Classroom

Via Paul Amsbary comes News Observor’s chat with Duke University’s Tracey Futhey about an-iPOD-for every-student program.

In my previous two postings and now over at Héctor’s Future of Communities class blog, Héctor and I have been discussing teachers and technology, and the reality of this new generation of tech-reared students reaching our undergraduate classrooms, and their relationship with technology and history and their own place in the world. Now along comes this interesting interview–

Futhey says, “How can we now take something that is a consumer application and see if it has significant value as an educational tool as well? It’s an experiment.” What I admire about this statement is the willingness NOT to have the answers, to experiment! Ha, imagine an entire university experimenting with iPODs in the classroom! And to understand that the kids are already using the tool and enthusiatic about it–what if we take these “gadgets” and see how they can be used creatively as part of the learning process–how can they be used for positive change and not just for their entertainment and/or commercial value?

I’m hopeful that the Duke University experiment will go well because Futhey understands that:

Technology is just another tool. It’s a very powerful tool, but it all really depends on how faculty view and consider the learning experience. It’s not the be-all, end-all. Technology is not going to take a mediocre teacher and make them a good teacher. Technology can help a good teacher to deliver the tools more effectively, sometimes more interactively and extend the reach to the students outside of the classroom. But it’s not the solution; it’s part of a package.

Indeed. Of course it gets me wondering just how they are helping the faculty incorporate these tools. Are there workshops? Is there mentoring? What’s the incentive? What’s the support system being put into place?

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