In my first blog entry, I asked: “How much is too much technology in the classroom?” and expressed my concern about the academic uses (and overuses) and validity of sites like Wikipedia and, more importantly, the development of students’ critical literacy skills (esp. when considering multiliteracies and semiotics) in a Google epoch. When I wrote the post, I was imagining a situation wherein students are invested in merely finding the correct answer to questions posed by the teacher. In that case, students are basically being called on to regurgitate information from texts and present it as knowledge.
My wariness of technology probably stems from my own academic identity and values, but I know something of the extent at which students rely on sites like Wikipedia & Google for gaining/providing knowledge on a subject. I’m not saying such information-getting doesn’t work on a certain level–the information is right there, easily accesssible! But such research does not involve work of a challenging nature, and thus it truncates students’ processes of inquiry and denies them the chance to practice organizing and synthesizing multiple ideas in order to come up with an interpretation that contributes to a discourse community’s body of knowledge, which is always growing and changing.
All the readings we’ve done on metacognition and pedagogical approaches that emphasize metacognition–specifically self-monitoring and awareness of strategies–have helped me to understand something I didn’t before: that every time we direct students to seek an answer to a question–especially a question to which we already have a specific answer in mind– we are denying them the opportunity to ask questions and explore possibilities for themselves. We, not just Google, can unwittingly prevent our students from developing critical thinking/critical literacy skills! Even though I’m not exactly answering my own question from blog one, I can’t help thinking of the differences between quizzes (traditional, seek-and-find) and blogs (a good used of technology in the classroom–it fosters community in and outside of the classroom)… Which approach would a student benefit more from in the long run? I’m guessing that if students set out to explore a blog topic of their choosing (or with some level of choice involved) and go through the process of realizing that there’s no exact answer to the questions they pose but rather a variety of possibilities for further exploration and questioning, then blogging has done more to enhance their learning (and self-monitoring, and strategizing) than memorizing parts of a text for and filling in the blanks.