Two ways to think about using technology:
  • Do the same thing we've always done but better
  • Do something different
Teachers have always used technology. In my high school English classroom in 1988, I had a film projector, filmstrip projector, overhead projector, vhs player, record player, and tape player. Notice the use of the word "projector." These technologies were primarily teacher-centered in that I used them to enhance my own presentations.

I did not have any computer-based technologies available to me in the late-80s...no Internet, no digital video, no podcasts, no weblogs. While some of these technologies, such as digital video, can be used by the teacher, many of them, such as podcasts and blogs, are really more about student use. Weblogs, for instance, make an excellent reflective tool. And there are some wonderful examples of student-created videos. Email makes the old "pen pal" a different kind of activity as well. These kinds of tools are beginning to change the dynamics of the classroom, putting students in a more central role in terms of learning.

Some people would argue that the students are different, too. Marc Prensky, who focuses on learning and gaming, argues that the "digital natives" in our classrooms have come to expect engagement, the kind of engagement they get when playing a game.

We'll be exploring the whole range of technology use from teacher-centered to student-centered throughout the semester. At some point this semester, you'll be visiting the George Lucas Educational Foundation. GLEF imagines a world called Edutopia where students are able to learn and explore on their own using technology to find and process information.