What does this say about us as learners?

A 2nd grade teacher told me – without any seeming embarrassment – that her students knew more about their iPads than she did. I thought in my head, ‘Really? They’re 7…’

As educators, shouldn’t we be embarrassed if we’re getting outlearned by 7-year-olds? (or 15-year-olds?)

See also Struggling with educators’ lack of technology fluency and “I’m not good at math.” “I’m not very good at computers.”

If the kids know more than we do


10 Responses to “What does this say about us as learners?”

  1. I would look at this a different way. It is great that a teacher is able to overcome her fear of her students knowing more about something than she does. Many teachers resist using technology at all because they are afraid their students will know more than they do. A truly student-centered classroom allows for many areas where the students know more than the teacher.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. Now, if only that were the situation behind this teacher’s statement…

  3. Sorry Scott, but who says iPads are good learning tools? I certainly don’t. Tablets are designed for content consumption, not creation, for passive, not active work. They are much worse than a pencil and paper in almost every aspect.

    • Oh, and lets say that the class size is 20. That’s 20*$400=$8,000. Find me a teacher who could not come up with better educational uses of eight grand. Even if you figure on getting 5 years out of them, that’s still $1,600/yr. Show me a 2nd grade teacher that would not jump for joy at having that budget for classroom use.

      • Bill, given the affordances that iPads bring over paper and pencil, I think I’m going to disagree with you on this one. When my paper and pencil can allow me to connect with the outside world in real time, create multimedia learning products, and bring the world to me as it happens, maybe I’ll change my mind… (says the guy with overflowing bookshelves)

        • And how much of that is relevant for actual education, and how much is distraction from learning, especially at that age range? Do you think that they will improve their writing skills (all of the research shows that students do less actual writing and revision on electronic devices)? Math skills? (likewise) Social Studies and Science I could potentially see some benefits, but there is still the question of the effectiveness of the resource for the cost.

          • Well, there’s a lot of research that shows that when technology is integrated thoughtfully and skillfully into classrooms, it can enhance students’ learning… It all depends on how the teachers and students use it.

            I don’t think ‘all of the research’ shows that students do less actual writing and revision on electronic devices. In fact, there’s quite a great deal of evidence that youth are writing more (if not, perhaps, revising more) now than they ever did before. It seems to me that a skillful teacher can utilize these devices – arguably the most powerful learning devices humanity has ever created – for good purposes and outcomes…

  4. Sorry Bill, I agree with Scott on this one. The real problem with iPads is that they are used mostly as content consumption devices – for a number of reasons. They can do tons of content creation … and should. The problem is iPads and technology in general are poorly understood by most as learning tools. iPads can be word processors, used to blog, used to incorporate photos and video into projects, used to create podcasts, video-conference and on and on. And yes, 2nd graders, even kindergarteners can utilize them in their learning.

    As for your claim that “(all of the research shows that students do less actual writing and revision on electronic devices)” is frankly not true – especially when you claim “ALL” research shows that. In my experience with my own students when technology is used in meaningful, constructive ways they write more, edit more, converse more are more concerned about quality and correct usage and more. When teachers integrate technology effectively and not mostly as drill and “computer lab time so I get a prep,” student learning is impacted positively. Like any tool how it is used and what it is used for are all important in effectiveness.

    • I’ve used online collaboration with my students for years (Wiki, Moodle, now Google Docs) and for rapid feedback and ease of revision, video analysis of student generated videos for Physics, and simulation software in Physics, Astronomy, and Environmental Science, so I know what tablets/phone/laptops are capable of. All of the research that I have seen has shown what I have observed (and anyone who has ever seen Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube comments) which is that students will write shorter pieces on electronic devices, and do not re-read or revise their work. Notes taken on electronic devices are more likely to be dictation than summative, and the students spend less time reviewing or revision them.
      If you want to see the limitations of any electronic devices, have students try to answer a geometry word problem, draw molecules, draw a Force Diagram, draw a qualitative graph, draw a comic strip style 3-panel “before, during, after” prediction of an event, or do any mathematics beyond simple sums. The ease that those tasks can be done on pencil and paper vs. the difficulty on electronic devices is why they are better for content consumption than creation. The easiest way to do any of those tasks with a tablet is to take a video of someone doing the task on a whiteboard or sheet of paper, which rather makes my point.

  5. If we want students to write longer pieces and/or re-read and revise their work, isn’t that a function of task and expectations, not medium?

    Yes, agreed that there’s still a place for pencil and paper, particularly around writing / drawing (although some people – not me! – seem to do amazing things with the iPad and a stylus). But I’ll still take the iPad over just pencil/paper any day.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, Bill!

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