We are three Finnish educators presenting a paper on social media and stories of learning at ITK (a Finnish conference) in April 2010. We have a bilingual Finnish - English blog where we would welcome your comments and stories about learning in the digital age. Has learning changed, how? Please comment!
We see the same in Ireland - aided also by many restrictions in schools on what sites can be accessed on school property. I was just doing a presentation and unfortunately had forgotten that YouTube was off limits. Rather than teach responsible web work they restrict sites that worry them.
Not just the sites that worry people - our system seems to work on the theory of: If it hasn't been deemed safe, block it! As a result, both our online roll-marking system has often been blocked for malicious content. Similarly, I discovered that Shakespeare was inaccessible due adult content.
The network at my school is completely open. I had a blacklist running to filter out unwanted websites, mostly because fellow teachers asked for some kind of "protection". We can also use a whitelist. But nearly no one uses this feature of our system.
In my opinion it's more important to teach students what sites to access and which to avoid. We've got some basic rules (no nudity, no violence, no Nazi stuff and no games). Students are reminded of these now and again. Those who ignore these rules are banned from using computers for half a year or more. We've only had few threspassers in the past. Students know they can have all the world's content at their homes. They often ask whether they can log in to their social networks and we don't mind as long as they are busy on their tasks too.
This may take us into whether education has changed in its dictatorial stances - and if so how. In the school I grew up in we were challenged for the way we dressed, talked, thought and the subjects that interested us.
Before we talk about the digital age we should try and find out why is there such a high illiteracy level in the world. I believe that the high rate is because we have not accepted the fact that the problem is with the English language and not the students.
I have been successfully teaching dyslexic childen for more than 5 years. I have the benefit of having taught dyslexic students who read in more than one language and as such have been able to compare the reading ability in 3 languages. My dyslexic students have no problem reading in languages other than English.
The people who write on dyslexia say that dyslexics cannot connect the sounds of the letters and the words they represent. This is completely wrong as my students have no problem conneting letters/words and sound in Malay and romanised Mandarin - both languages are read in romanized text just like English.
Please read my blog for more detail and your comment will be highly appreciated. I would also think that if there are dyslexics in Finland they would not have a problem with the Finnish language as much as they have with English. Could you comment on this please.
My blog: http://www.parentingdyslexia.com
My e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and kind regards,
Thank you for your comments. English is definately more difficult than Finnish for a child with dyslexia. In Finland for some reason English teachers don't teach phonics. Children are supposed to memorize spelling. My daughter is not a visual learner so this has been a major problem.
Has learning changed? Well we've had a yes and a no reply. I'll take the middle ground and say yes and no.
Most of the fundamental learning and teaching skills are still as important today as they were years ago. What's changed is that there is now an extra set of new tools (in particular, the Internet tools). So to be competitive and successful [whatever that means] it's worth utilising the old fundamental skills and the new 21st century skills.
I've been thinking about this one and have decided to move to the yes and no camp as I realized that with the advent of brain wave technologies we are on the edge of being able to help people keep their focus when up against a learning curve that is hard for them - this could change educational practice as well as its processes.
A big thank you to all of you who contributed to this discussion. As a part of the annual ITK conference, my colleagues and I presented you views on learning and teaching in the digital age. We made a 10 min video in Second Life where we had a Google earth map showing where all of you come from as we discussed your comments. It was a big success and it was also great for Finnish teachers to hear that all around the world we are dealing with more or less the same challenges. The conference theme was digital dreams and reality which I think suits this conversation as well.
Many of us have a vision or dream about the future of education. Learning will have changed meaning everyone has the right to learn at a pace and in a way that best suits the learner in question. Teaching has to change if this vision is to become the future of education.
Hi Nellie - it's a condensation of lots of area's (wider than the educational domain). It's based on the fundamental question: why are we educating students? Two key answers to that are: for economic success; and to enhance the quality of life. The former focuses on the skills necessary in a 21st century business. The latter includes things like being "relaxed and focused", but that also aids your effectiveness in the work place.