I feel like the only person in this class who doesn’t have a childhood rife with memories of Sesame Street, Magic School Bus, and even Bill Nye (shocking I know!). What did I do as a child??

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Photo Credit: Will Folsom Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, to be fair, I do remember seeing episodes of each of these shows, but very few. I was just never really a t.v. person, and still am not (but I won’t miss a single @BlueJays pitch this post-season). It feels a bit difficult to discuss educational programming when my experiences with it are quite scarce, but I know enough to know that these shows were created with the intent of educating children but in a very fun and engaging way. I really enjoyed my school experience, but would I have if I was more exposed to these educational programs? Would they have made my school experience less thrilling because I would have seen just how awesome learning can be through one of the aforementioned shows? I really don’t think so. From reading some of my classmates blogs, such as Roxanne’s, she makes it clear that watching these shows didn’t ruin her school experience as she says, “As a child, I copied notes from a black board every day and although I was not completely entertained, I still obtained the information I needed to know. To this day, I do not believe I had a bad or boring school experience.”

I find it hard to envision a time where education will become dominated by one particular technology or approach. The only example I could possibly think of is maybe sometime in the future we will have a Matrix-like ability of simply downloading knowledge into our brains and schools will just become a library of downloadable skills, abilities, and knowledge. In the meantime, we have teachers. Some people thought that the advent of educational programming would make the teaching occupation obsolete. Others now may think certain apps or websites like YouTube or Khan Academy may make the teaching profession obsolete. While technological advances provide new tools for teachers to implement in educating their students, we still require the teachers to be able to provide a blended approach to learning. Not everyone can learn well through watching a video. A video cannot give realtime feedback to guide learners through a process. It cannot assess understanding. I utilize videos in my classes a lot! They are helpful aids in learning, and they are oftentimes very entertaining. But I find that they compliment what I do and what I’m teaching, but the students always continue to learn more from what we are doing in class then what they see on the screen.

I believe that all human beings enjoy learning. It’s coded into our DNA to be curious and to want to know. Bill Nye is one of my heros and I think he is one of the most important people in the world today as he tackles major issues to try and improve the quality of life for all human beings. He started his show to teach kids about science, but it was also designed to entertain. I don’t think he ever had the intention of replacing science teachers with his show, but created it to spark a love for learning and to show kids that science can be fun and exciting. If we realize that science is exciting, and knowing how things work brings us joy, then even in a traditional school setting that may not be quite as entertaining as a t.v. program, we can be excited and enjoy the experience because we are learning. Videos, apps, and all other technological tools are just that; tools that we as teachers can utilize to provide a little diversity in our classes and to also allow kids and adults alike to continue learning away from the school as well.

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Photo Credit: Kathy Cassidy Flickr via Compfight cc

While educational t.v. shows continue to exist, the new frontier is educational apps and other technological devices such as smartboards. These devices and applications offer very similar experiences in my mind to the educational t.v. programming in that they are educational tools intended to help people learn, they often invoke a little more excitement and joy than a lecture, but you still require a teacher to guide you through the learning process. We shouldn’t view these items as replacement teachers or completely sufficient teaching tools, but they are tools that we can add into our teaching utility belt to continually create a better learning experience for our students. Tyson, in his blog ‘Our Greatest Resource’, says that we need to view student devices as our greatest resource and to show trust in our students that they can use them responsibly. When you give that trust to students, they often rise to the occasion and become responsible users of a device that has the ability to be one of our best teaching tools.

Not sure if everyone knew this yet or not, but Bill Nye will be getting a new Netflix show starting next spring. I missed a lot of his original show, but I will not be missing this!

Live long and prosper

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