Expert urges technology in pedagogy

Alan November, an expert on educational technology, advised faculty last Monday on the use of podcasts, blogs, wikis, screen-casting and global communication in the classroom in a technologically progressive environment.

Head of  School Jeanne Huybrechts introduced November’s full-day workshop as a means to “improve teaching by use of computers to move ahead from the 20th century.” 

November, the senior partner of November Learning, an organization that fosters students’ critical thinking and global communication, encouraged the effective use of technology in the daily curriculum.
He argued that the use of global networking benefits both teachers and students in a classroom setting.

As students develop a “global voice,” they contribute their knowledge to the world, he said.
November stressed the need for making global connections because “your students are growing up in a country that is no longer the center of the world,” he said. “This is a disruptive time.”

November met with the prefects of grades seven through 12 in casual roundtable discussions at breakfast and lunch about the uses of computers and the internet in their educational and social lives. He asked students about what dominates their use of computers, their most enjoyable uses of technology and asked them how their academic assignments would be disrupted if all the computers in school were taken away.

November addressed the effects of social networking sites such as MySpace and personal web pages on developing relationships and communication networks. Although praising the connections that these sites provide, November warned students against predators and urged them to remember that information once on the internet never disappears. From 8:30 a.m. until noon and then from 1:30 until 2:30 p.m., November addressed the teachers and students together in Rugby Auditorium where he demonstrated technological innovations that can be used in the classroom.

“If the ideas presented today are against your values and disrupt you teaching, tell me,” he said. “Don’t let me say anything that challenges your core values.”

He addressed suggestions he had discussed with the students, presenting screen-casting, use of podcasts, blogs and internet communication programs.

November explained that “anybody can publish any version of the truth,” and that students “need to understand bias in the media,” as he demonstrated several ways to derive valid information and consider conflicting viewpoints through the use of computer language. Through understanding the grammar and syntax of the internet, November said, students can learn to verify the validity of sources.
“The idea of bringing the world to my classroom is very appealing,” Head of Foreign Language Javier Zaragoza said. “I demand that my students be creative, critical thinkers and be open to other perspectives and I cannot afford to not practice these notions without considering integrating a number of these sources.”

Podcasting lectures would compromise interaction between students and teachers, precise note taking skills and a motivation to listen closely which are all “fundamental skills for success,” history teacher Dror Yaron said.