Tech­nol­ogy or teach­ers?

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “When the In­ter­net is the teacher,” Opin­ion, June 8

Michael God­sey is right to ar­gue that stu­dents need teach­ers who ac­tu­ally teach and are not mere “fa­cil­i­ta­tors” for In­ter­net­based cur­ricu­lum. How­ever, he omit­ted the most im­por­tant rea­son stu­dents need teach­ers: Not all stu­dents are self-mo­ti­vated to learn.

Teach­ers in­spire stu­dents to learn and help them un­der­stand the rel­e­vance of what they learn. Stu­dents must also fig­ure out how to ver­bally com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively with one an­other. This is best ac­com­plished when in­ter­act­ing with a teacher and class­mates, not by speak­ing to a com­puter.

Fur­ther­more, we have many stu­dents who have learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, are learn­ing English or have so­cial/emo­tional is­sues that can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on their abil­ity to mas­ter core con­cepts. Th­ese stu­dents need a teacher to make learn­ing ac­ces­si­ble, not a video or a com­puter pro­gram.

Schools should not re­place teach­ers with com­put­ers; rather, teach­ers should use in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy as a tool, much like we do with books and lab­o­ra­tory equip­ment.

Gary Garcia

Los An­ge­les The writer is a high school prin­ci­pal in the Los An­ge­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict.

Af­ter us­ing tech­nol­ogy and me­dia in the class­room for more than 25 years, I can say with con­fi­dence that their proper us­age will sig­nif­i­cantly ad­vance ed­u­ca­tion, shift­ing the teacher’s role to fa­cil­i­ta­tor and coach.

Tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion is based on an an­ti­quated “fac­tory” metaphor, with cor­re­spond­ing method­olo­gies that do not nec­es­sar­ily ben­e­fit from the in­ser­tion of tech­nol­ogy. The emerg­ing metaphor for ed­u­ca­tion is the “net­work,” with ac­com­pa­ny­ing re­designs in in­fra­struc­ture, cur­ricu­lum and method­ol­ogy.

In this model, the stu­dent is em­pow­ered to de­sign any­thing imag­in­able within a vir­tual lab. Be­yond the ei­ther-or propo­si­tions in God­sey’s ar­ti­cle, tra­di­tional, net­worked and pro­gres­sive in­struc­tional ap­proaches are in­cor­po­rated. In ad­di­tion to fa­cil­i­tat­ing learn­ing, the stu­dent has an ac­tive role in con­struct­ing his or her own mean­ing through projects for con­nected lo­cal and global com­mu­ni­ties.

Thus, the 21st cen­tury ed­u­ca­tional fo­cus is on the mas­tery of “stu­dent-sourced” learn­ing and cre­at­ing pro­cesses them­selves. The na­tional ad­vent of “me­dia arts ed­u­ca­tion,” through the re­cent devel­op­ment of vol­un­tary stan­dards and as­sess­ments, will con­trib­ute to this trans­for­ma­tion.

Dain Olsen

Los An­ge­les The writer, an LAUSD teacher, is the me­dia arts writ­ing chair for the Na­tional Coali­tion for Core Arts Stan­dards.

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