Edtech basic #1 was access to information from a variety of perspectives around the world in a variety of forms. Edtech basic #2 is again about access, but this time it is about access to people.
I remember the first time my class emailed some one else to ask a question. I was teaching grade four in 1998 and my class had taken a walk in our community to talk about architecture and building design. On our walk, the kids wanted to know why most homes had peaked roofs, but most large commercial buildings had a flat roof. When we returned to the classroom I had the kids locate an architecture firm that had their contacts listed online. It turned out they were located in Chicago. We put together an email as a class with our question and sent it off into cyberspace. The next day we had a response that explained the idea behind these flat roofs. We were all amazed by how easy it was and what we had learned.
Since then we’ve worked with classrooms around the world. We started blogging years ago when few others were. We’ve made contact with people on every continent except for Antarctica. We’ve blogged with others. We’ve skyped with others. We’ve completed video, audio and photography projects with other classes. We’ve taken part in large scale events and talked to single people to learn about the experience of their family during the times of the Nazis and Kristallnacht. We’ve talked to authors and experts of all kinds. Most importantly for my class and myself we’ve been fortunate enough to establish a few long term relationships with other teachers and classrooms. (Unfortunately, these days we’ve lost that connection and I miss it.)
Understanding that communication is an edtech basic allows you to open your classroom to others around the world and admit that their are valuable people with knowledge who can contribute to the learning of your students.
Unfortunately, many districts and divisions stand in the way of communication, seeing the software and websites that allow these contacts to take place as dangerous. Basic tools like blogs, wikis, Skype and Google hangouts are regularly filtered. There are many issues inside the basic of communication that need to be solved on a school or district basis.
Communication as an edtech basic lets us see the world as our classroom. Filtering those connections pushes our classrooms and our kids into a smaller world that is only populated by people nearby. It encloses them in a world where the “outside” is seen as dangerous. It encloses them in a space where they have few opportunities to interact with people from a variety of cultures and with a variety of experiences and values. In our globalized world and multicultural societies the edtech basic of communication is a valuable tool to combat racism and prejudice.
““Stranger danger” panic is the best gift America ever gave to Facebook.”
(quote taken from this article at Wired)
Fight filtering policies. Make connections. See others as having valuable perspectives, information and understandings to share in the education of your students.