Of Logging In and Learning, Or Digital School Daze

20120904Heatmap

When I saw this map on geekpalaver, what first came to mind is Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.The Huntsville City Schools Board Room is now a War Room. Strategies are plotted to “position” materiel [“As content is positioned in libraries,” says Wardynski].

Wardynski doesn’t want us to think that he is mapping which rooms in a school have their students logged on as a means of disciplining those teachers whose students are forced to “learn the same old way their grandparents did.” That last sentence is from a very bizarre document,Key facts/discussion points regarding the Digital 1:1 Initiative. It talks a lot about the space program, and how “the children of Huntsville will fly into the digital age in the classrooms of schools across the city.” I imagine Neil Armstrong learned using not a calculator or a laptop, but a slide rule. No matter.

No, Wardynski claims his map is needed to find which classrooms may need technical assistance in getting their students logged on.

This means, of course, that if the kids aren’t logged on, they should be.

Are there then no classroom scenarios which would not require logging on? Let us imagine a Q & A session of “What if’s.”

Q: What if the teacher was lecturing and the kids were taking notes?

A: Teachers don’t need to lecture. There are plenty of lectures online on every subject conceivable. What could a HCS teacher have to say that hasn’t been said before and better by those who are online? And why would kids be taking notes when they can watch a lecture over and over again until they learn the content? The teacher is there to make sure the computers are up and running.

Q: What if the kids were learning long division? Surely they aren’t meant to use a keyboard to work problems?

A: Why on earth do kids need to learn long division like their grandparents did? Here, I’ll teach you long division. Go to “All Programs.” Choose “Accessories.” Click on “Calculator.” Enter numbers. Click divide. Next question?

Q: What if the kids are writing essays? They need to get on-line to submit their essays but not to write them.

A: Look, there are 20,000 written compositions already graded available for students to choose from. It’s not like any of them really have any original insights into Hamlet or the Constitution or what have you. They choose one of these, and hope they got one that was assessed positively. What’s important is that they learn what makes the grade, right? That’s a useful skill. Teachers just need to summon up the assessment for the essay chosen.

I expect no more whining from teachers about class prep time and having to grade papers all weekend. This new initiative means they can walk out of school empty-handed and be ready to deliver pizzas or sell washers at Sears, do some real work, in their free time.

Ah yes, now that HCS is “at last doing away with the traditional boundaries of time and space” as they “journey to a new frontier in education,” now that kids are no longer “expected to unplug and logoff, and then study and learn the same old way their grandparents did,” there will be time for them to prepare for their futures. Time to log on to America’s Army.

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