Our visit to Ancaster Senior Public School finished off with a roundtable discussion with a couple of dozen grade 8 students, facilitated by principal Lisa Neale and two students.
We visitors were also able to pose questions and get feedback from the students.
My question was: “I spend a lot of time working with teachers who have a wide variety of opinions about the value of using technology in their classes or courses. Some are not keen to incorporate it due to their existing pedagogical beliefs and values, and some are sort of afraid. What advice would you give these teachers?”
The resulting discussion was fascinating and more complex than I anticipated.
· Some students reiterated previous points, where they stressed that technology has its place, but is not suited to every task for every student.
· Some like pencil and paper for writing, for creating, for brainstorming, for illustrating and sketching prototypes, and more.
· They noted the value of having a paper backup for study notes, or at least an offline file to use, in case technology fails at the wrong moment.
· They expressed the appeal and novelty of doing a project solely through using library books.
· They also talked about the importance of face-to-face discussion, particularly at the beginning of a project where the direction is being decided, and the subtleties of the views of collaborators are important.
However, many also spoke of how tech has transformed their learning.
One young woman said she had moved a lot and attended a variety of schools, and that Ancaster, with strong leadership from Lisa and the resulting widespread integration of technology into teaching and learning, “Was a whole new level of awesome.”
Following up, another student noted that teachers should realize that opening up the classroom to the online world yields much stronger projects.
One young man spoke near the end, with the following opinion, “These teachers should step up and be professional. They are supposed to be preparing us for the future.”
What a great and far-ranging discussion. These outstanding young people were so willing to incorporate the best of the past, present and future into their education.
And it is simply this openness that I hope I can pass along to my colleagues.