Part One: Summary
At first glance, Westlake High School in Maryland is just like any other school. Kids are talking in the hallways and learning during their class periods. But in one of the classrooms it is different. Instead of the original chalkboard and teacher in front of the class, the kids are listening and learning via Skype. As you would think this would be with their teacher, but it is not. They are listening to an author on what they are studying in history class at the time. This is a new and different approach to teaching, which costs the country billions of dollars to support, and many are wondering if it is worth the cost. The author does not charge to give his lecture and the students seem to pay attention, the problem is the technology is costing thousands of dollars when their teacher could give the same lecture. One English teacher says the new technology is worth the cost because it gives the kids someone new to listen to and keeps them engaged. Even though the kids usually do not know the speakers who talk to them, they encourage them to push themselves. Even though the speaker and the class are not physically together, they do not feel removed from each other. This technology connects the classroom to the outer world. The big screen in front of the class is more efficient than laptops, say some of the teachers, because it is easier to monitor. Technology is going behind computers now. In many classrooms it is not uncommon to be using cell phones and tablets in the daily lesson. Although we now have all this technology, there has not yet been a way to see if there is an increase in scores and engagement of students. The difference between low-income school districts and districts with access to funds is still a major issue. It is very important teachers know how to use the technology provided because if they don’t it is only a distraction to the students.
Part Two: Questions and Answers
Q1: What examples of issues have you observed in your own experience?
A1: I have never been taught by a speaker via Skype before, but I am currently enrolled in an online class. So, in terms of being taught through technology, I personally do not care for it. I don’t believe the students get the proper education. I am finding I have a lot of questions about assignments. Online classes are not good if the student cannot teach and motivate themselves because there is not a teacher there to answer those questions or remind you to turn the assignment in. I learn better when there is a professor in front of me talking and showing me what to do, because thats the biggest thing for me, I learn best when I see it being done.
Q2: How will the issue affect your relationship with your students, parents, colleagues, and/or principals?
A2: Even though it is said the teacher and students do not feel removed from each other when technology is brought into the lesson, I believe I would feel removed. If someone else is teaching them, yes I will be happy they are getting another take on the issue, but I will feel like I am not doing my part. Kids need that one-on-one time with a person to really learn the material. Yes, times are changing, I guess the way I would teach is old fashion, and I think that’s the best way for students to get the best education.