http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=414993708&size=s by spiralz
What happens when we get out of the way. The ThinWall classroom was using Moodle to create chat groups for the students. Moodle is a great tool and it has served our school well in a variety of circumstances. However in this case the students were finding it cumbersome. For some reason the chats would drop participants or just would not work smoothly. We expect some minor difficulties and we checked settings and tweaked the system but it was beginning to effect the conversation and thus the learning. Clarence suggested we switch to MSN Messenger since his kids all had accounts and then require them to email us transcripts of their chats. Here is where it gets interesting.
I okayed the switch , asked for a code of conduct and directions regarding the transcripts and we went to check with our students to see if the had MSN. Surprisingly only seven did. So now the tech coordinator and myself were considering what we would do. Should the kids set up MSN accounts ? What was involved? Although both he and I had accounts it had been a long time since we set them up so we had to check out what the kids would need to do. The problem here is we had not asked the right questions and we had not listened to the kids. We spent at least 30 minutes working on a solution before we went back and asked the kids what IM they used. It turns out that our kids use Yahoo Messenger. Now what? Someone suggested looking at Meebo which we did... but then I actually talked with the students rather than just getting one reply and running off to find a solution.
As soon as the kids understood the issue that in
I think the hidden problem is that we get in the way. In an effort to be the teacher we do not allow the students to navigate through the tools. We forget to listen and be learners ourselves. It is important that we teach safe and ethical behavior and monitor the way they use the tools as well as helping them see the power the tools have to help them learn. It is good that we show them new things like voicethread and that we make the tools available to them. But we also need to allow them to find solutions and use the tools that work for them. Last night before we even had officially switched from Moodle one of the groups switched on their own and emailed the transcript of their chat to Clarence
In the beginning the students were hesitant they did not know how it would work to learn in a connected network. Some of the tools we pointed them to were new to them . All of what we were doing was a new way to approach school. Now I think they get it. They see the potential and want to move ahead and so we can point out tools and we can guide the learning but we are ready to listen and to let them find the right tool for the job. Hmmm …..if I am not worrying about the tools I can focus on planning the learning.