Friday, September 28, 2007

"Being Digital"

Photo of Nicholas Negroponte, courtesy of Nicholas Negroponte's website

The digital divide is rampant amongst our schools! This article underpins my belief that students need adequate access to technology tools in school. The 21st Century allows for vast amounts of knowledge to be explored. How is it possible for teachers and administrators to narrow down this knowledge into workable ideas?

It is apparent that collaboration is a leadership skill. In accord with Negroponte, I believe schools in digital harmony will not be subject to the digital divide. Further, as Negroponte suggests, "a new generation is emerging from the digital landscape free of the many old prejudices." This suggestion creates an ideal scenario with which to utilize Negroponte's four powerful qualities of decentralizing, globalizing, harmonizing, and empowering. Perhaps, then in an idyllic digital world prejudice and dissention will be only a history lesson where students can learn about the tribulations of 20th century school violence in a field trip to a museum similar to the Museum of Tolerance.

Student's today have grown up in a multimedia age. Some have surpassed teachers' and administrators' knowledge regarding browsing such as the imaginative agent-based systems mentioned in the article. This is particularly true when it comes to online digital gaming. Massively Multiplayer Online(MMO)gaming is all the rage right now and is a competitive market. Games such as World of Warcraft, where players subscribe to a monthly or yearly gaming world, is one such example of MMO gaming. I admit, ashamedly, that I do not know how to play these games myself. My son tried to teach me but my gaming skills are second to nil.

Just imagine the possibilities in Special Education, English as a Second Language instruction, and many other school intervention strategies when students conquer the realm of the digital divide! Their self esteem gets boosted, test scores go up (which makes administrators happy too) and many windows of opportunity open up for all students. On top of that, the prejudices that have divided regular education and alternative education could completely dissolve. We owe it to our future leaders to digitalize education so they can be prepared to conquer the world.

Reshaping the Classroom

Collette said it all when she commented that "they [kids] are already connected." This is why I strongly believe in learning styles to engage students. I give each one of my students the VARK test at the beginning of every semester. This helps the student, as well as the teacher, diagnose any difficulties in learning. The VARK tests for Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic learning styles. For instance, if a student is having trouble in Geometry he may have a low visual learning preference. Another example is a low Read/Write preference for a student having difficulty with writing essays. The VARK website has the questionnaire that will help students acknowledge their learning styles. It also allows students the study strategies connected to their learning style to assist them with study skills.

However, there are many other types of learning styles that even Gardner updates periodically, such as the natural learning style. Yet, I have not heard of a technological learning style, but I do believe that the majority of my students prefer learning through wireless technology (or even wired). I have indications in the VARK test whereas each and every high school student I have tested always answers the question: "You are planning a holiday for a group. You want some feedback from them about the plan. You would:" with this one possible choice, "phone, text, or email them."

Therefore, in agreement with Collette, I also envision a wireless classroom whereby students have paperless courses and tote laptops and iPods. In fact, with this course I do believe Dr. Faverty has started a trend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This is the beginning of the Fall 2007 quarter of the JDP. This is my second year of residency at UCSB/Cal Poly SLO for the Ed.D. degree. I look forward to this quarter and beginning my dissertation...