Teaching the ‘Google generation’

We are teaching the ‘google generation’ but we need to be careful.

I heard this statement today and it couldn’t be more true. The generation of pupils we are teaching now are becoming more and more reliant on the internet smart phones and tablet computers. is this a bad thing? well it could be as we have seen quite often already the internet can be abused and there are so many sites that are filtered, to put it into context only a few weeks ago were we allowed access to youtube in schools in the borders. It could also be abused in class with cyber bullying and not staying on task etc etc.

But i believe we as schools and as teachers need to catch up with the ever changing and lightning speed advances in technology. We have all said ‘type this into google’ and ‘google may have the answer’ whether it is in our daily lives or in school to a colleague or a pupil.This isn’t a bad thing, the internet (and google) is such a powerful tool that if used in the right way we can really make great advances with our learning. It is therefore important that we teach pupils how to source the correct information as not every search can bring you the correct results. As we all know google and search results can be misleading but if we teach pupils how to appropriately disseminate information then we are onto a winner, a world of knowledge at our fingertips. The only barrier is policy. I mean this by saying that not every classroom has a class set of computers and not every class can book ‘the computer room’.

So how do we get around this?

Smart phones? iPads? iPhones? I as a young teacher would like to utilise them all, hence my reference to policy. IPads are brilliant tools and you would only have to search youtube or twitter to find the great work that is being done with this tool. There are thousands of apps for teachers of any subject and it is a tool that is still fresh that any pupils would love to use it within any class. It also provides something for the ‘no kitters’ in PE. Moving onto smart phones, what if they were allowed in classes would they have a detrimental affect on pupils learning? maybe. Could they be of benefit to learning? yes i believe so. On a placement the PE dept. allowed use of mobile phones so i set about using them in class. For this i used QR codes on badminton posts. The pupils were working on attacking shots in badminton play and each court had a different area of work be it smash, drop shot or net shots. The QR codes linked directly to coaching videos and drills. The pupils scanned the codes watched the video and went about performing the practice. Feedback from this lesson was great and the pupils thoroughly engaged with this style of teaching. It was at their level, it was relevant, they were in control and it was their time.

I also want to make reference to twitter. What a great tool. For collaboration of teachers, discussions, debates and information giving. I have introduced this in school and i hope over time the pupils fully engage with the feed. So far i have had moderate success with discussions and i am using hashtags to gather pupil opinion and feedback as i feel it is a great way of engaging with the pupils and gaining their respect and honest opinions on matters that directly links to them. I am using their medium of communication which is current and easily accessible through your smartphone and laptop computer.

My point of this splurge is simple, we need to tailor learning for this generation. I recently reminded myself of Changing Paradigms and RSA talk delivered by Sir Ken Robinson. In it he reminds us of the purpose of education and how it is directly linked to its purpose and represents its time. He mentions how education was created during the industrial revolution and was designed to replicate it and produce a generation of workers and thinkers. My question is this, does our current education system truly represent todays society? if you go into any classroom in scotland does it paint a picture of what the pupils are surrounded by in their daily lives? for some the answer may be yes but i am willing to bet that more often or not Sir Ken has a point and many classrooms still represent the industrial revolution. How could we change this? well technology is a start. I last week asked pupils to answer questions using 140 characters (a tweet) this worked for a few questions and the strategy need worked but the pupils instantly recognised its relevance to their every day lives. My hope is that i introduce more and more of modern technology into my teaching iPads, smartphones, twitter, google searches and many other tools i can use to help my pupils learn and i also hope that more and more pupils engage with my twitter feed and other approaches i am using to motivate and engage todays generation which has everything.

My final thought is this, imagine a school with a WiFi cloud, iPads for every teacher, smartphones allowed in classrooms (only when appropriate to learning) and homework which is done and handed in electronically. Would this work? or would it go down in flames? i believe we can mix modern methods with the tried and tested but only time will tell if education will catch up with the ‘google generation’.

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