Digital Media in the Classroom

On Wednesday this week, I had the opportunity to attend one of the first showings of Digital Media – New Learners of the 21st Century, a documentary highlighting how using technology in the classroom motivates students to learn in various ways. The premise of the movie reminded me of my hero, Clayton M. Christensen who wrote Disrupting Class, a book about how the technology movement offers one solution to some education issues.

The documentary will be live on February 13th. Check your local PBS stations to view their schedule.

Watch the full episode. See more Digital Media – New Learners Of The 21st Century.

Some thoughts:

Part of my degree taught me to question things, which I consider to be a blessing and a curse. For one, I maintain that I am an idealist and that anything is possible if you are open-minded and the people you are working with are also open-minded. While I prefer to remain this way, I often find myself surrounded by people who do not understand options or possibilities. In some cases, possibilities still require lengthy processes and sometimes more rules so people don’t abuse the system.

The documentary highlighted a couple inner city schools and showed how technology has given students the opportunity to become active in their classroom learning. Students are entrusted with laptops, and the school partners with families to find hot spots where students and parents can use the internet. The schools also partnered with the local library to have a special students-only media center where students can escape and work on personal digital projects. In the documentary, there is a shot of kids using technology to have political chats during a discussion group in a social studies class, using laptops to create molecular structures and models using artistic programs created by Adobe, and the list goes on and on.

There was a question about policy and what policymakers can do to implement similar programs in other states. I too had a similar question, but was more concerned with the actual implementation process. It seems that the last two seminars I have been to require that everyone open their minds to possibilities. The skeptic in me thinks about traditional teachers and educators who don’t understand the technology themselves and wouldn’t buy into this idea of using technology as part of their lesson plans. In order for this to work in the classroom, these educators would have to be open to the idea that the students can teach them. The idealist in me is screaming “HAZAA. YAY for innovative ways that students can be engaged!”

My hope is that each of us can remain open minded and join the advancement of technology instead of fighting so hard to keep it out of classrooms. I have read several articles highlighting teachers who used texting as part of their curriculum. In this sense, creativity is key to advancement, and innovation is the key to success.

Do you agree?