Monday, June 6, 2011

Embrace Technology

There seems to be a wide debate in teaching circles about the role of technology in the classroom. Some teachers are fearful that technology could replace human beings in the classroom, and others are unaware of data that supports the effectiveness of technology in the classroom. These debates both fail to recognize the bigger picture. I highly doubt teachers will be replaced with a line of computers and a VCR, just as I doubt that most instructors believe that innovation is anything but an opportunity to make our student learning experiences better.

As the Co-Creator of Awesome Island, you may be wondering why I am pointing out the benefits of bringing technology into the classroom when our game is best defined as a board game. To be clear, my interest lies in the bigger picture, which is our responsibility to prepare our future generations to make informed financial choices consistent with their own values and goals. Our game was a successful product born from an innovative spirit to enhance the learning experience for the participants. It is a tool, and I am fan of any innovative tool that can achieve these results.

I had a colleague challenge me as to why my students are encouraged to use iPods in my classroom. To be clear, they can only do so as an anchor activity, and can only listen to an approved list of financial education podcasts. In all of my academic classes, this is the only time I permit them to do so. I am not sure if she was being complimentary, or questioning the technique. However, I am baffled by any position that we should never use them.

Students receive extra credit if they download podcasts from a variety of sources, such as Laura Adams, NPR Money Planet, Dave Ramsey, even my students' own TeenDollars. As mentioned before, the use of podcasts is a differentiation technique that I use as an anchor activity. Choosing to use their iPod as a learning tool is their choice. They have a variety of other choices to choose from, some of which were great ideas by our wonderful gifted coordinator Nicole Dietrich.

I am very proud of my students for the creation of and their recent podcasts. It is a learning platform developed by a series of high order thinking activities -- such as creating our own podcasts as an exam review. The process began with students developing 40 exam questions, consistent with the content of the course. Each question needed to be scenario based, with a few other requirements. The best 20 questions were selected and the students created a series of podcasts with these questions.

Click here to listen to the TeenDollars podcasts. Click here to visit TeenDollars.

In my next blog, I will write about how as a teacher, I use Everfi and the Khan Academy in my classroom.