Becoming George Jetson

I spent today listening to a number of engaging presentations from Dr Barrett Mosbacker on how schools, and in our case, Christian schools need to come into the 21st century by engaging our students in learning with the use of technology in relevant ways. One of his comments particularly stood out – “We can’t have Fred Flinststone schools for George Jetson students”. The obvious implication for us as teachers is that we can’t continue to live in a Fred Flinststone world – we need to morph ourselves to become George Jetson.

Our students are using technology all the time – many of them carry ‘smart’ phones that they can use to connect to the internet whenever they like, where ever they are. It’s simply not good enough to try and shape technology to fit our ‘old’ teaching methods. Our teaching methods must evolve with the times and take what the technological world is producing and apply it to our Programs and lesson plans.

It was interesting to note that:

– there are over 2 billion google searches each month

– more text messages will be sent each day than there are people on the earth

– In 2008, the amount of new technical information was doubling every 2 years. In 2010 the estimation is that it is doubling every 72hrs.

Dr Mosbacker believes we are living in a 3rd industrial revolution as so much of our old technology has become obsolete – the VCR, dial-up internet (which even I have now ditched at my wife’s insistence!), the type writer, encyclopaedias, polaroid cameras, and I’m sure you can think of plenty more.

How we now use this information (that people are embracing technology more and more) is something we must deal with.The use of mobile phones at school is a prime example of an area we need to give greater thought to. At Covenant, students aren’t allowed to use their phones in anyway during school hours (including break times) however, the possibilities for enriching education are worth considering.

It would be naive to think that every single one of our students have a smart phone, but almost all of them would carry a mobile phone of some sort that carries a camera. How can we put that to use in our lessons? Use the cameras for individual and peer review technique when practicing skills? Using video functions to film scenarios for discussion or create a Health TV article? Use the recording device to podcast their thoughts or a summary of their notes?

Could we use the calendar and organisational tools in each of the phones to help students better manage their time to complete homework, assignments and assessments? It’s not like they ever leave it too far out of reach! We could explore the possibility of students using them to submit feedback on what they are currently learning in class by using a website such which allows students to SMS a code to give instant feedback that would be presented on a live animated chart that can be projected onto the board.

For those, that do have access to a smart phone, we could use applications such as ‘runkeeper‘ to track and analyse student movement patterns, monitor their average speeds, highest speed, the amount of time spent in specific training zones.

I understand that there are issues with who ‘owns’ the content of photos or videos that we upload, but maybe we need to consider how we can embrace the technology that our students carry with them each day.

As you would know from my previous post, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this recently. Today, I realised that I’m becoming more George Jetson that Fred Flintstone!