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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

Education and Technology:
Serendip's Experiences 1994-2004

Expanding the Conversation

Serendip was founded ten years ago in part as "a continually developing set of resources to explore and support intellectual and social change in education ...". Over the past decade, Serendip has been involved in an extended (and continuing) process of "trying out things" to see how the web can be used in education as have many others. This section of reflections on education and technology contains materials contributed by others reflecting on their own experiences.

During fall semester of 2004, Alice Lesnick and Barbara Hall used Education and Technology: Serendip's Experiences 1994-2004 as the basis for a discussion of education and technology in Education 200, Critical Issues in Education, the introductory course of the Bryn Mawr-Haverford Education Program. The class assignment, as provided below, involved discussion in an on-line forum on Serendip and an archive of this discussion is provided as well.

Using the Web to Reflect on Education and Technology

The Assignment:


Visit and explore/read the Serendip pages on Education and Technology at

Find a big idea/key premise to engage with in the site. If you need a place to start, start with the Serendip Web Principles and use one of them to get oriented to the site.

Once you’ve explored the site, write a 2-3 paragraph message to the discussion forum by noon of the day before your class meets.

Read the messages of your group members and as many others as you can thoughtfully read.

Write a second message in which you raise 1-3 questions about what you’ve read on the forum.

In class, you’ll meet with your reflective paper group to discuss your ideas and experience of writing on the forum in greater depth.

Remember that the assigned texts for our discussion of ed and tech are as follows:

Dwight, J. & Garrison, J. (2003). A Manifesto for Instructional Technology: Hyperpedagogy. Teachers College Record, 105 (5).

Willinsky, J. Tempering the Masculinities of Technology. In Lesko, N. (2000). Masculinities at School. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Please draw on/refer to them as needed and helpful.

The on-line forum archive:

Welcome ....
Name: Paul Grobstein (
Date: 10/24/2004 10:48
Link to this Comment: 11191

Jody Cohen and I have had an interesting/enjoyable time reflecting on ten years of Serendip experiences with education and the web. Its been a particularly useful thinking through because of Jody's background and extensive experience in education together with the fact that she (unlike me) has NOT previously been actively involved in using the web as an educational tool. The upshot is that our joint "summary" is very much a "work in progress", not just a description of the past by someone who has been committed to the activity but a thinking through of what it might mean for the future.

Still, it is no more than a snapshot in the present, and a snapshot reflecting only two perspectives. If the web is to play some kind of major role in reshaping education, as both I and (now) Jody imagine it might, there is a need to have more stories, more experiences, more sharing of perspectives to bring that effectively to pass. Our hope is that this summary, and this forum, can contribute to such a story sharing process.

Please contribute your own thoughts to this conversation, regardless of your degree of sophistication with web use and/or with educational practice /theory. Both the web and education should reflect what we as individuals want them to be and the best way to get as close as possible to that is for everyone to contribute to the public conversations that make them what they are.

desire and technology
Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 10/25/2004 15:33
Link to this Comment: 11214

Jody and Paul have put together an impressive array of materials, and queries arising from them, about the uses of technology in contemporary education. I've made up a page of my own thoughts on this intersection, thoughts that represent the experiences of someone who--until a couple of years ago--had no web experience whatsoever, and has since embraced, with a lot of gusto, the web as rich resource for her own teaching and learning, as well as that of her students. It's of considerable interest to me to reflect on just why I've found this form so compatible; it seems largely to do with how computers function as tools for creating an arena for social experience--and one that offers an ethic of play.

two forms of education
Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 11/03/2004 23:37
Link to this Comment: 11351

Here's an offering from me and Annabella Wood; a way of figuring our universal desire for happiness and security in tension w/ the desire to have room to explore and make new things. We call it Two Forms of Education: A Table and invite your responses.

What does technology and education mean for all?
Name: Esther Warren (
Date: 11/05/2004 19:07
Link to this Comment: 11378

It is sometimes unbelievable to me how much information the internet truly holds. With only a computer screen in front of me, the possibilities are, as they say, just about endless. In this highly technological day and age, I commend Serendip and all the other websites that are committed to integrating exploration, learning, communication, education and technology. Within minutes of visiting the Serendip Education and Technology page, I was truly in awe of the work done to help this integration contribute positively to our educational experience.

I would like to express a slight concern, however, regarding the practicality of ensuring that “all individuals have access to the Web not only as users but also as contributors” (Excerpt from Serendip's Evolving Web Principles - January, 2001). It is my understanding that one of Serendip’s goals is for educators to take advantage of the Web’s ability to bring people together to communicate, even cross-culturally. But I wonder about the first: “all individuals have access to the Web …as users.” Although I realize technology is rapidly becoming a part of many people’s everyday life, the fact remains that some people simply do not have access to a computer. Sure, educators can provide opportunities in school and it is fairly easy for me, as a Haverford College student, to have the world at my fingertips (sorry for another cliché…). I wonder about not only the under-privileged students, but also about the under-funded school districts that don’t use technology the same way it is possible for other school districts to use technology.

So, technology and education sounds great. But I question: can technology unite learners, even across socio-economic divisions?

The inaccuracy of the Internet
Name: Shelley Nash (
Date: 11/05/2004 22:27
Link to this Comment: 11384

The age of the internet has brought most students a new and improved way of finding information, synthesizing information, and communicating across cultural boundaries in a way that has never before been possible. Students are able to find information literally seconds after querying for it, and are able to find a wide array of sources and opinions fromt eh comfort of their own homes or libraries. The internet is accessible to anyone who has time, a connection, and a computer; this means that every day people have the power of both knowledge acquisition AND knowledge creation in a way that they have never experienced before. This universal acces becomes problematic when one starts to look at the accuracy of a lot of online information.

Anyone can post something on the internet--it's a public forum, a "common good," to use a term from economics. This means that the thoughts, opinions, and erroneous interpretations of various kinds of information can be posted at will, with no filtering or verification process. The question then becomes, how much of what I'm seeing on the internet accurate, and how can I tell? As a student, the question of accuracy can sometimes be solved by sticking to university websites, but this often limits a student to more mundane and run-of-the-mill viewpoints. Often, the more radical, intersting information is found at other kinds of websites, ones which do not have the same kind of integrity as collegiate webistes and where the authors have not been screened for thoughtfulness and accuracy. If the internet is supposed to make things easier for a student, then there must be some way to correct for this unreliability in the sources on the internet. Opinions and diversity are good, but so is accuracy; until there is some way for a person to separate the fact from the fiction on the internet, it will never truly be a substitute for other kinds of information acquisition.

A means or an end?
Name: Dan Lenehan (
Date: 11/06/2004 00:30
Link to this Comment: 11388

How are we to view the internet? Should we perceive it as a means to a greater frequency and fluidity of intellectual exchange or as an end in itself, that is, the exchange itself? There is little doubt that the internet has already changed the way we approach education somewhat dramatically. The question is whether we employ it within our existing educational system, transforming that system in the process (using the internet as a means) or construct an entirely new approach to education centering on the internet as the unique site for cultural interaction and intellectual discussion (making the internet an end).

Perhaps the distinction between these two views is insignificant, for either way the internet provides a forum for this kind of broad-based exchange of ideas that had never before existed. I guess I just have this depressing vision of students sitting in front of a computer screen for hours, "interacting" with other users on a forum about some issue or another - they would be taking a more active, constructive role in their education, certainly, but what kind of interaction takes place between internet users and how much can one interact with another whom they "see" through a computer screen? In this sense I would advocate that the internet be viewed more as a means to an enhanced environment of interaction and exchange that still rests on actual interpersonal contact than as the interaction itself, as I imagine many internet proponents do as well.

Name: Joseph Chai (
Date: 11/06/2004 22:40
Link to this Comment: 11400

I am currently observing a math class at a local high school and am quite fascinated by the rather heavy use of technology in that classroom. The teacher does an excellent job at merging technology in the venue of mathematics, and the children seem to be responding well. Technology, in different shapes and forms befitting even a high school math class of all arenas, does an excellent job at educating students by means of experience - students can, in a sense, take ownership of the learning they are a part of. The Internet appears to be but another popular tool in this paradigm of technology and education.

My only concern from observing this class arises from the fact that even technology proves to be a deterrent to education for these students. In fact, it is almost commonplace to see at least a handful of students mindlessly avoid the lectures and the practice exercises of the teacher to focus instead on their Texas Instruments graphing calculators to play games. I suppose that every milestone in education inevitably arises its share of problems and distractions from the students that this education engages (and I'm rather positive that this general statement can extend well beyond the milestones in education, but naturally that is the area of interest here). I wonder what the implications are for something as big as the Internet. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before high school math classes can find ways to seamlessly bridge the curriculum and the Internet, and when that day does come, how will teaching and learning look? Is it likely that the benefits of student response heavily outnumber the possibilities of distraction and misuse of educative tools? Are the fruits resulting from labor worth those very efforts, in the end?

Maybe this is more of a pedagogy issue, and how the teachers can overcome students ill-treating technology and education in the classroom. Any thoughts?

Technology and Inequality in Education
Name: Shana Slutzky (
Date: 11/07/2004 11:03
Link to this Comment: 11403

With so many jobs currently dependent on technology and the web, every student should have the opportunity and guidance to become computer literate. The internet offers wonderful opportunities for interactive learning, endless amounts of information, and many different methods of exploration. On the web, users are stimulated visually and often aurally, with many options for various learning types. Internet information and computer programs can supplement other forms of learning in the classroom, giving students a much richer learning experience.

The “Internet Age” presents problems, however, for many students, and people in general, who cannot afford or gain access to computers. Children in wealthier families are much more likely to have internet access from a young age, giving them yet another edge over less privileged children, thus further increasing the Achievement Gap. With computer literacy now an expectation in many universities and job fields, children who are already seen as several steps behind are now pushed further backwards with one more “disadvantage.”

In an ideal world, schools could provide for the technology that parents in many homes cannot. Unfortunately, there are such discrepancies in funding between school districts that our universal education does not provide the same opportunities to all students. Many ideas have been implemented in our education system to amend this problem, but so far, the inequalities remain. We continue to watch as more and more students slip through the cracks while others succeed, simply because of differences in background.

Is the Web good for education?
Name: Jason (
Date: 11/07/2004 11:28
Link to this Comment: 11404

Is the Web good for education?

Although broad and fairly universal, this question is becoming more and more important as technology increases and more computers invade the classroom. The importance of computers is understood. Software programs like PowerPoint, Word and Excel are extremely valuable to any student at any grade-level. CDs can be inserted into computers to show encyclopedias and dictionaries. All of these tools are vital to education, and can be accessed through various functions on the computer.

But what about the Web? What separates the Web from all the software and CDs one can insert into a computer? One difference between the Web and other functions of the computer is its simplicity. The Web has everything in one place. For example: One can go on the internet and type a composition in a discussion forum, not know how to spell a word and go to, not understand how that word is pronounced and can click it to hear how, need to find a source and go to or a search engine, then can send it and have millions of people read that composition. All of this can be done in a matter of minutes without moving from your seat, or inserting anything into the computer.

The various functions of the Web make it quick and easy for any student to not only learn, but learn quickly and fairly easily. Because of this, computers are vital to education. Couple this with the fact that students will need computer literacy to survive in the workplace and it seems like a no-brainer that computers belong in the classroom, and that they are good for education.

Technology and Deafness
Name: Halley McWilliam (
Date: 11/07/2004 12:15
Link to this Comment: 11405

In response to Esthers point about accessability of technology for students, I could not agree more. We are at a day in age where technology is so advanced that it has made most everyday life much more integral and in fact simplar. Yet there still remains the issue of equality. In general I am very impressed by the work and progress that has been seen by the developments of this kind of education.

However, if technology is meant to enrich a child's learning by providing him/her with an abundance of resources, how does this affect children who have a major disability and possibly cannot access such additives? For example, in the deaf community right now there is an operation that involves an highly advanced hearing implant into a child's ear. This implant, if successful, allows a completely deaf child to hear if implanted early enough, when it is turned on. In most cases, these implanted deaf children are able to attend all hearing schools but in general have the be aided by the teacher using a microphone when she speaks. The argument is that education in deaf schools does not compare to that of hearing schools and that the children who do not get cohclear implants are simply not going to be as well educated.

Other than being a cultural dispute about being a member of the deaf world at large, what if the family with the deaf child simply did not have enough money to pay for surgery. What about the teacher's dependence on the microphone? Does every educational setting have the foundation that would allow for a such a practice? What if the insurance company did not include it in the families plan? It has been debated that it is a minor crime to not allow a deaf child full access of hearing to become apart of a dominantly hearing world to become as successful as possible. For some families, just getting access to a hearing aid can take months because of a lack of regard for the immediate necessity for those in need, regardless of who can pay. For those months without it, they are missing out on education and the technology advancements that would benefit them just as it does any other hearing child. If this is the case, and if a cohclear implant or any other hearing aid is desireable, should they not be accessable by anyone to be able to reak the benefits that technology has created so far for society at large?

Technology and Deafness
Name: Halley McWilliam (
Date: 11/07/2004 12:19
Link to this Comment: 11406

In response to Esther's point about accessability of technology for students, I could not agree more. We are at a day in age where technology is so advanced that it has made most everyday life much more integral and in fact simplar. Yet there still remains the issue of equality. In general I am very impressed by the work and progress that has been seen by the developments of this kind of education.

However, if technology is meant to enrich a child's learning by providing him/her with an abundance of resources, how does this affect children who have a major disability and possibly cannot access such additives? For example, in the deaf community right now there is an operation that involves a highly advanced hearing implant into a child's ear. This implant, if successful, allows a completely deaf child to hear if implanted early enough, but only when it is turned on. In most cases, these implanted deaf children are able to attend all hearing schools but in general have to be aided by the teacher using a microphone when (s)he speaks. The argument is that education in deaf schools does not compare to that of hearing schools and that the children who do not get cohclear implants are simply not going to be as well educated.

Other than being a cultural dispute about being a member of the deaf world at large, what if the family with the deaf child simply did not have enough money to pay for surgery. What about the teacher's dependence on the microphone? Does every educational setting have the foundation that would allow for a such a practice? What if the insurance company did not include it in the families plan? It has been debated that it is a minor crime to not allow a deaf child full access of hearing to become apart of a dominantly hearing world to become as successful as possible. For some families, just getting access to a hearing aid can take months because of a lack of regard for the immediate necessity for those in need, regardless of who can pay. For those months without it, they are missing out on education and the technology advancements that would benefit them just as it does any other hearing child. If this is the case, and if a cohclear implant or any other hearing aid is desireable, should they not be accessable by anyone to be able to reak the benefits that technology has created so far for society at large?

Name: Halley McWilliam (
Date: 11/07/2004 12:21
Link to this Comment: 11407

Sorry guys, I didn't mean to post twice, just read the second one.

reflective pp 4
Name: Xuan-Shi, Lim (xlim@bmc)
Date: 11/07/2004 12:54
Link to this Comment: 11409

“The disorder of the Web is one of its greatest virtues.” Disorder can be very disturbing to a student who is learning to use the web as an educational tool, especially when no one in his or her family is internet-savvy. The “problem” of accuracy (see Shelley’s posting) is perhaps related to the disorder of the Web. I see Serendip as one of the places online that try to create productive disorder. People who post online respond and interact in a “safe” space where people respect one another’s opinions etc. Moderators are not needed because college members are bound by the honor code or are identified by their email account/name. It works well for Serendip, a kind of artificial haven in the chaotic mess of this worldwide web. But can this be replicated successfully in other institutions, with younger students? I also question whether half of the users who post on Serendip do so voluntary or to fulfill an assignment. Whereas real-life conversations are spontaneous, online forums take a while to stimulate interest and it takes many parties to keep the ball rolling. From another perspective, users may be more likely to scrutinize their thoughts before posting (versus speaking). In this sense, technology may be used to help educators achieve specific goals related to writing and learning etc.

The internet makes experiences available to all human beings, experiences “of a kind which individuals can themselves learn from, rather than being told about.” I have some difficulty understanding this concept. Being part of any activity is by itself an experience that allows for some kind of learning or reflection to take place. Being in a lecture may be a passive experience, if students have little opportunity to interrupt a teacher’s monologue. In this sense, students are ‘told about” the experiences of others. Being in a discussion-centered classroom may be an active experience; students who participate in the dialogue may learn from such experiences as well. Meaningful participation or engagement seems to be the key if a user seeks to benefit from a web experience, but how often do the majority of users do this? (Apart from chatting with friends on msn, in game rooms etc) Is it possible for online forums (for example) to compete with a student’s other priorities when he or she gets online? How can we get students to engage in online dialogues that offer the opportunity of “experience” without making it mandatory? Perhaps, we need to first change students’ perspective of the functions of internet.

Name: ()
Date: 11/07/2004 13:06
Link to this Comment: 11410

I guess I am finding it difficult to see what kind of usage of the computer schools are going after. It assumed that by doing research on a computer, "computer literacy" is achieved. To a certain extent I disagree, primarily because I am looking for clearer definitions of what it means to be "computer literate." Is it knowing the mechanics of a computer? Knowing about certain software? From what I've read it seems as if students will be doing research but they will not be learning about computers.

Then again, perhaps this is not the intention of integrating computers into the classroom. This website points out that computers can be another mode teaching/learning. Not everyone learns the same so students cannot all be taught the same way. As well, there is a lot of information on the internet. My concern is the extent to which computers will be used in the classroom and how the computers will be used. My high school has had a laptop program for the past 2 years--basically everything is done on computers: note taking, reading assignments, teaching (through special software) etc, etc. However, there is a lot of IMing, file sharing, plagairism and other inappropriate usage of the computer--forcing my school to spend more money trying to simply control these things, including additional software/programs monitoring types of software being used and websites being accessed on the school's internet. Not to mention, the extra $1,500 students have to spend on the laptop, and additional money for software needed for classes--money some students just may simply not have.

As well, this website assumes that everyone will respond positively to computers. In doing so, they do not take into account a students assumptions and approaches to the internet. I get enough sitting in front of the computer writing papers and doing research, and, this may sound simplistic, but it makes me sick. Literally. Headaches, eyes hurt, wrists hurt, back hurts--all those wonderful things. And what if, as Halley mentioned, I have a disability--physical and/or learning? How will computers help me?

Of course, the usage of computers in the class may vary depending on the school, teacher, and students. However, I just am a little concerned about the general level and type of usage.

Name: Allison Jones (
Date: 11/07/2004 13:06
Link to this Comment: 11411

sorry thats my post above...

Technology as an educative tool
Name: Zachary Zeli (
Date: 11/07/2004 13:35
Link to this Comment: 11413

The web holds infinite potential in helping to facilitate the learning experiences we have as human beings. In my opinion, I think the web is a wonderful tool that has been added to the list of resources in education, however I have to agree with the theory that our learning is always in progress and is never complete. For this reason, I feel that the web can never be used as an exclusive tool in education; it must be used as a supplement to our education as a whole. I come to this brief conclusion after experimenting with one of Serendip's online interactive applets on experimenting with segregation and integration. While it was interesting to see that there is a tendency to separate into similar groups, I feel as if I may not develop complete conclusions because their is an absence of some context in my use of this model. I feel that I would develop more complete conclusions if I was provided with detailed explanations of why only certain factors were included in the model. The model failed to include factors such as the environment in why movement may occur in the first place (in other words not putting similarities or differences as the exclusive reason to move positions). I feel that with deeper context, I would have been able to develop more conclusions from the model.

Universal access; not a universal solution
Name: Michael Shapiro (
Date: 11/07/2004 13:55
Link to this Comment: 11414

I agree with the serendip's evolving web principles. Those with Web access do have an amazing amount of information at their disposal and this is a very egalitarian concept. Higher speed internet access which is not necessarily universally affordable seems incongruous with this notion of fairness of access. This strikes me as only a minor problem (although, potentially a bigger problem in the future) however as many, although perhaps not all, eductational tools on the Web are accessible no matter what type of connection a user has.

While acknowledging the vast potential the Web has an experiential and interactive resource as well as a source of information, I think that creating equal access to the Web and to computers will not be able to bridge the gap between high achieving and struggling students. I think that this technology cannot and should not take the focus off of the importance of the interpersonal form of education that is so critical particularly at an early age.

Children who gain critical thinking skills at a young age whether at home or at school will be better able to take advantage of the Web as a resource than those children who are without that background. Therefore there can be a great deal of inequality in my mind even when this technology is presented as being universally fair.

Too much technology is bad
Name: Will McGuire (
Date: 11/07/2004 16:48
Link to this Comment: 11417

I agree with many of the points that have already been made regarding the use of the internet. I think it is an amazing educational opportunity and should be utilized in the classroom. However, I also think that spending too much time on the computer can be counter-productive. From my own experiences I have found that the time spent on the internet could usually be better spent on other, more traditional classroom experiences. While it is important for students to understand how to navigate the internet I am not sure if encouraging students to “surf” the web is the way to go about it. Many children will already have a great deal of experience at this from home. It can be a huge time waster. Most young people today, I would say, have become overly dependent on the internet. It would be nice if most of this time was spent for educational purposes but that would be wishful thinking. There are so many distractions. Nevertheless, it is important to give children who do not have access at home a chance to learn about and experience the internet. In order to survive in the world today students need to be computer literate. It is important to be able to access information in an effective manner and I do think that in moderation many of the ideas discussed on this site could be very useful.

When used effectively in the classroom it is true the internet can give students an experience that books cannot provide. It can lend itself more to some kinds of intelligences than the traditional classroom atmosphere. Students are able to learn through exploration and can learn from themselves and other classmates. I do not think that this kind of learning can only be achieved on the computer, although it is a resource. The online forums I believe to be a good tool for many students. It allows all students to participate even if they are not very talkative. Students are able to learn a great deal for each other. They are not simply being talked at by the teacher.

Overall, I do think that there is a danger in focusing too much on technology and the internet. Allison’s experience in high school demonstrates this. Although it is all designed to enhance the learning process it can easily take away from it. Computers should not be used just for the sake of using technology. I remember at times in high school math classes it seemed like much of the focus was on using the graphing calculator and not so much on the actual material. This frustrated me and seemed to be a huge waste of time. It is important that is does not become the trend for all classes.

Name: Casey Phillips (
Date: 11/07/2004 18:27
Link to this Comment: 11418

I would like to start out by saying that I have always had mixed feelings about computers and education. I think that part of my problem is that from about 3rd grade on I was considered to not be a good speller but all my teachers in elementary and middle school told both me and my parents not to worry because I was inheriting an age of computers and spell check. So what I am trying to say is that while computers and things like the internet generally have the potential to be wonderful educational tools when used properly they can also be used to mask deficiencies in an individual's education. Yes, my teachers were right about my being able to rely on spell check for a great deal of my spelling needs but that only gets someone so far for example when you have to write an essay on an in class exam there is most definitely no spell check.
I guess my biggest fear with using computer programs that can do wonderful things for us like spell and read and even type (like the voice recognition software I have been using for the past 8 years)is that they will lull students and teachers alike into a sense of laziness. I mean okay so it can be viewed as a teacher's job to teach his or her students to read and write (preferably well)but where is the incentive for them to do so or for that matter for the student to learn to do these things when they know they really don't have to because there is a machine and a software program that can do it for them. Then there is the issue of what happens to the individual who has depended on this type of technology for the better part of their academic career when they are suddenly confronted with a situation in which they would normally use a computer and software or the internet and these valuable pieces of technology are nowhere in sight or there is no power source to make the computer work? Does that individual have enough faith in their non-technologically based skills to proceed or do they simply shut down and refuse to do the task until they the once again have the safety net of technology firmly in place.

3 response questions
Name: Allison Jones (
Date: 11/07/2004 19:28
Link to this Comment: 11420

How do we define "computer literate?"

How do we ensure fair distribution and usage of computers in America's school?

What does the incorporation of (or the desire to incorporate) computers reveal about the role of school and of technology?

3 response questions
Name: Joseph Chai (
Date: 11/07/2004 19:53
Link to this Comment: 11421

1) What do you think about the current state of the different resources available to children? Unquestionably, we have a long way to go before all resources, including technology, are equally available to all children. It seems that the Internet is a resource that is becoming more and more available to the masses. Several ISPs provide services without charge, and even broadband prices are decreasing. Is it of poor judgment to think that the Internet is an arena where nearly all students can engage in equally?

2) I'm stuck on pedagogical issues here. Any tangible ideas of how to merge technology and education, and how these changes affect fairness and equality of resources for students?

3) What is appropriate use of technology? Perhaps it isn't safe for the integration of technology and education to be the end-all of things. Some of these posts recognized a danger in putting too much emphasis on the Internet in classes. Thoughts?

edu. and the web
Name: sherira (sfernand@bmc)
Date: 11/07/2004 20:04
Link to this Comment: 11422

As it was mentioned earlier in the webpage, I think the disorganization of the web is one of its best assets. I also love how unreliable it is. It forces students, educators and researchers to think. It’s easy to take what’s written in a text book as the truth just because of the way it is presented. But when something is written on the Web it encourages questions and doubt. There are so many different ways of looking at what is written on the web that further research is required to make heads or tails of the information.
These questions and doubt can lead to learning for the sake of learning. Huge leaps can be made if learners do not simply take the material presented to them for granted. New questions will arise, along with new ways of answering questions.

3 Questions
Name: Halley McWilliam (
Date: 11/07/2004 20:57
Link to this Comment: 11423

1. There has been some mention in the past about making the desire to use computers applicable to both boys and girls, is there anything that is going to be done to help further this so that computers are not dominantly used by one sex?

2. How is the use of the internet helping to promote progressive education through student interaction with one another?

3. Having gone to a school where computers were a requirement, I find many things being brought up in these discussions facinating. Jason is absolutely correct in his challenge against the implementation because of distraction. Having computers is immensely distracting. Kids check their e-mail, go on AIM and play games all throughout class. If the entire class has a computer, it can become exceedingly difficult to catch the students, whether few, or all who are busy doing other things. Confident that this is the case, I question what is going to be done to prevent this from happening?

Initial Thoughts
Name: Hannah (
Date: 11/07/2004 22:29
Link to this Comment: 11426

Exploring Serendip this weekend, I felt frustrated with the structure of the site, as I have before when I've needed or wanted to use it. I understand Dwight & Garrison's desire (expressed in conventional linear printed form) to break free of the oppressive telology embedded in many educational materials, but I am highly skeptical about internet information exchange as a way to accomplish this. I don't want to be chained to a computer, and I don't really want to be forced by a "post-industrial" society to enter such an abstract space. No matter how much I use virtual "worlds," they have never felt as real to me as the concrete physical world used to create them.

One place my browsing led me this visit was to Schelling's model of segregation, something I've seen before in computer science classes. Given the basic conclusion that it takes a very small amount of wanting to be around people >>like oneself<< to create rather drastic segregation, how much craving for simplicity, conventionality, or >>packaged-ness<< is it going to take to keep me or anybody else too far from some new hyperworld to join in Dwight & Garrison's hyperrevolution? To put it another way, I feel that using a computer dramatically limits my intelligence (kinesthetic, mostly, as well as interpersonal) and I do not want to be forced by the structure of the society that I live in to use computers, or read, for that matter.

I am, however, open to the possibility, that Serendip as a mini-institution at Bryn Mawr, and many virtual libraries in general, offer openness to criticism as a way to entice visitors: "You don't have to join us, but if you want to, you're always welcome," just as the little green and red triangles in Schelling's model move only if they're unhappy.

What's our Goal?
Name: Esther Warren (
Date: 11/07/2004 22:37
Link to this Comment: 11427

I think I am a bit surprised with all of these thoughts (mine included) about technology, for various reasons, possibly being detrimental to the overall education experience. Zach, I like what you posted: "the web can never be used as an exclusive tool in education; it must be used as a supplement to our education as a whole." But here's my question: should we be striving for technology as a supplement only? Casey's point about it possibly promoting laziness is well taken. I know that my mental math skills have declined simply because I have a calculator to tell me the answer without me having to think twice about it. Yet I still have to take tests when I don't have a calculator. So what's our goal? If integrating technology into the classroom is supposed to be beneficial because it helps us adapt to our more and more technological world, then great. I think it's doing that. Is it important to keep those skills like mental math or spelling? Although Zach's point seems right, I wonder if using technology as a supplement is actually more detrimental, if, for example, we still value those mental math and spelling skills. Perhaps we are entering an age in which those skills are just no longer necessary. That doesn't seem quite right, so then what's the middle ground?

First Response
Name: Hannah (
Date: 11/07/2004 22:43
Link to this Comment: 11428

Jason's postingreminded me of another question I've had in the back of my mind:

What about education makes tools such as Power Point and CD-ROM encyclopedias essential or even useful? Anything intrinsic to >>education<< as we've been discussing it so far this semester? I want examples of how this technology relates to the purpose of education to be made more concrete for me, because in my experience I have not been able to find or make these examples.

For me, computer technology does not feel like an equalizer. What kind of virtual worlds do we want to create? How much silicon and phosphorous will it take, and how much energy, total? If everyone appears a little black letters on a screen, what sorts of diversity are we hiding from view?

3 Questions
Name: Michael (
Date: 11/07/2004 22:58
Link to this Comment: 11429

1. Will the Web become increasingly more elitist as it is integrated into schools as an educational tool? For example will richer online experiences and better lesson plans be reliant on faster speed more expensive access?

2. Even just looking at the Web in its most idealized form as a resource does it really solve the problem of learning inequalities among students?

3. When computer technology was used in my high school it quite often struck me as showing off the school's wired-ness for lack of a better word. What are some examples of experiences using the Web that you all found positive in your various educations?

Name: Hannah (
Date: 11/07/2004 23:00
Link to this Comment: 11430

Zach, I'm willing to bet that person/people presenting the model are hoping you'll create your own context around it, that they see it as something to spark more ideas and questions rather than a whole idea in itself. However, I see your concerns about the way the model is contexualized by its authors as applicable to the whole philosophy that led to the model's creation. NetLogo might be nothing more than a "boy's toy" or "man's machine" (as described by Willinssky (in print)). It's a bit like people might be hanging out and saying, "Hey, wait a minute ... I have an idea."
>>>>"Ooh, what?"<<<<
"Maybe, just maybe ... no, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
>>>>"Tell me!"<<<<
"Maybe we CAN'T CONTROL what our students learn."
>>>>"Now that's just too shocking."<<<<
"No, seriously, maybe humans aren't all-knowing all-controlling beings but rather a lot more like ants. Let's expound on this concept and use it to create academic journals and reinforce traditional power structures within Western society."
>>>"That's a really, really great idea. Let's pretend that the vast decentralization of causality we see, and the seeming uncontrollable-ness of the world are NOT things that anybody really noticed properly before, and also ignore the fact that the wealthy elite are the only group with the power to declare that we MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO CONTROL the world."<<<<
"I'm glad we're on the same page."

Name: Casey Phillips (
Date: 11/07/2004 23:10
Link to this Comment: 11431

My questions:

Is disorganization really such a good thing when you deparately need to find something on the internet in order to complete a task?

On the other hand I can understand the disorganization is good side too because sometimes it leads to the discovery of better things you didn't know were there.

I know that the internet has led to an increase in plagairism but there are also data bases now that help teachers detect parts of papers they think might not be original thoughts and that is good because it shows that the internet is keeping up with the needs of its users.

3 Questions
Name: Jason (
Date: 11/07/2004 23:29
Link to this Comment: 11432

Does the internet help develop social and communication skills, or hinder them? I feel while people are able to talk to more people and from farther away, there is less face-to-face contact.

Can a student still survive today’s workplace without computer and internet literacy?

Does the internet in the classroom reinforce social divisions, when a child cannot afford a computer in his/her home?

Name: Zach (
Date: 11/07/2004 23:42
Link to this Comment: 11434

1. When I posted my intial comments, I wasn't even thinking about other forms of technology besides the web. In our lifetime, there is always going to be evolving modes of technology. What is technological proficiency and how will educators achieve this?

2. Since the evolution of the internet, I have always been required to use internet resources. What if educators required projects that explicitly required students to NOT use the internet?

3. At what point in a person's education does technology need to play a role?

3 questions
Name: sherira (sfernand@bmc)
Date: 11/08/2004 00:47
Link to this Comment: 11435

Should safety be a bigger issue when we think about teaching children through the web? I’m not talking about younger kids, but for high-schoolers mostly. The things they could be exposed to online can be way out of their league, but they can very easily get themselves into trouble with it.

As technology gets better and better how do we decide what would be re-inventing the wheel in relation to what we are doing mentally instead of using technology? Who gets to decide what methods are outdated and what aren’t?

As technology grows the world is getting smaller. We have the chance now to collect some of the smartest most motivated minds in the world and link them together through internet cafes and pc’s all over the world. How can we get more people involved in sites like this that bring people from various backgrounds together?

How does it work?
Name: Shana Slutzky (
Date: 11/08/2004 03:53
Link to this Comment: 11436

How do you control the material students encounter on the internet, making sure they are protected?

If studies show that people who spend more time in front of their computers and on the internet are more likely to develop depression, what can we do to keep the web an interpersonal experience rather than one that isolates?

How do you prevent dependence on the internet and computers, making students just as capable of writing on paper and searching in encyclopedias as they are of typing and browsing the internet?

Education and Technology
Name: Justine Garcia (
Date: 11/08/2004 13:32
Link to this Comment: 11442

The increasing importance of computers and technology in our society cannot be denied, but I often do not see this importance reflected in schools and pedagogy. Computer literacy is a basic criteria for many jobs, and the definition of literacy is expanding to include more programs and knowledge. Perhaps this is a reason why technology is not more preavalent in schools, siply because it is impossible for teachers and the school to keep up with its ever expanding demands. Also, using technology in schools requires the teachers to learn more, something many are reluctant to do. It is clear that technology has a place in education due to its place in society. The difficulties in implementing a comprehensive technology program are a result of several factors, among them, the ever-expanding and improving body of technology and computer literacy, pedagogical descisions, funding, and further education of teachers.

However, technology's place in education must not be allowed to phase out the important aspects of teacher-to-student and student-to-student relations. There is, in the implementation of extensive technological programs, the danger that these all important relationships will be lost or diminished. The creation of a pedagogy that allows students to gain computer literacy must be balanced with the tradition pedagogy that relies on personal relationships between students and teachers. Just because students can access the information through the use of a computer does not mean that this is the best and only way to access it. There is much to be said for both sides of this arguement, but due to the nature of technology, a true accord can never be reached. It is my opinion that, though the pressures of society are pushing students toward increased dependence on computers, it is essential that interpersonal relationships be preserved.

Art is an interesting field to discuss, in that it contains both traditionl and digital mediums. It is a field that has been greatly affected by the introduction of technology. However, there are artforms that go unchanged, such as painting, ceramics,printmaking and sculpture. these mediums are practiced much the same today as they were a century ago. It will be interesting to see if, in the future, these mediums undergo a transformation or are phased out due to the increase of technology.

1) Are certain subjects more prone or open to transformation by technology?

2) Does the internet and universal access to information change any basic pedagogy? Do teachers need to change the way they teach certain material, or change the material itself?

3) Should teachers be required to have a certain level of computer literacy? If so, how should this level be maintained?

PS- Sorry this is so late! I went home this weekend and didn't come back till this morning.

3 Questions
Name: Dan Lenehan (
Date: 11/08/2004 13:54
Link to this Comment: 11443

Dwight and Garrison (2003) argue that traditional pedagogical approaches cannot maximize the educational potential that a web-based pedagogy offers. How does the entrance and increasing presence of the internet into education affect our understanding of pedagogy itself?

What is the future of textbooks?

Can educational structures - physical (buildings, classrooms), interpersonal (student-teacher and student-student relationships), and metaphorical (curriculum, educational theory) - as they are now survive as computers and the internet become more a part of the larger educational realm?

Name: Natalie (
Date: 11/09/2004 18:07
Link to this Comment: 11474

I am struck by the reality that technology is simultaneously accessible and inaccessible in so many different ways. It is theoretically accessible in that there is information out there that anyone can access, but there are so many other variables that impede on this accessibility. Coming from the discussion the class had today about multiculturalism, I wonder if there is a difference in the ways that different cultures and ethnic groups approach the use of technology? Aside from cultural differences, the access to the technology itself would act as a mitigating factor. If someone has less experience with technology, they may be less willing to explore a site and search for hard-to-find information. The ability to read, interpret text, and think ahead to what link might get you where you want to go (hypertext) rely on a high level of thinking. A site like Serendip depends on interpretation, which is a high-level cognition that is necessary to use the technology in a purposeful manner. It allows fast access to multiple sources of information, which serves to deepen the points of reference upon which you can situate, your argument. This is a useful thing, but I am also fascinated about the ways that the computerized text is similar and different from text in the printed form. I like the ability to hyperlink to other useful texts, but the physical book/paper itself is irreplaceable and the search for sources of information yourself is necessary to develop many skills necessary in academic work and in jobs in general. Sometimes I think the easy access to readings online makes students unnecessarily lazy!

find me on the WWW
Name: Samantha (
Date: 11/10/2004 22:51
Link to this Comment: 11501

Natalie, I agree that “technology is simultaneously accessible and inaccessible in so many different ways.” Quite honestly I would say I love the internet. Why? Because I remember a time not too long ago (say late 80’s/early 90’s) when computers first came about, they were so foreign, so impossible to navigate because of the formulas you needed to know, to remember. Then in the 90’s, the internet exploded so to speak. I remember the first time I did a query using a search engine, and how all of this information popped up on the screen. What was once inaccessible b/c of libraries with ancient texts still on its shelves became available to anyone. Anyone that is that could afford to one, own a computer, and two, afford the internet. It was exciting, liberating even. I felt like what was once unknowable I could somehow find the answer

I see that schools have to incorporate technology in the classroom because it is in every aspect of our lives. To be computer-illiterate (well, to be fair, to be “illiterate”) makes it extremely difficult to navigate the world. These days, you can shop, do your banking, make investments, and take college courses, all on the Web.

Education and Technology
Name: Kristina Durante (
Date: 11/11/2004 21:00
Link to this Comment: 11525

With the transformation that the internet has gone through since its begining it is no wonder that it has become an educational resource. People are actually able to obtain online college degrees now and take courses online from various universities. With the merge between education and technology people from around the world are able to form a "world wide culture"
Education has been become in some cases dependent on the interent. In some of my clases this semester we can only find our sylabuses on the interent, while in other clases assignments can only be done on the internet. While this is supposed to make life easier it can actually be sometimes more of a hassle. While posting comments on blackboard for classes and pulling up my sylabus I long for actual human conversation about topics. I really dislike the fact that education on the internet has become in my view highly individualized and I feel it lacks a certain humanity appeal. With people taking online courses, where is the education in that? The people who are obtaining online degrees get no experience in a classroom and lack a multicultural education, which in critical issues we have found to be so important. One way to become educated is to here the opinions of others. Everything that is on the internet today is excerpts or snipits of something. I feel that education on the internet is not a complete one and a class should not be soley based on the internet. In conclusion, I feel that although the internet is a highly resourceful place to obtain information, its purposes as a highly educational experience can be debated.

response to first reading
Name: Alice Lesnick (
Date: 11/12/2004 19:08
Link to this Comment: 11538

It is exciting to read all that is already here. I appreciate seeing the HC and BMC Critical Issues sections together here with voices mingling. This in itself is an interesting instance of the capacity of the web to contribute to community building among people with common interests, pursuits, or commitments. I myself am hopeful about this use of the web.

At this point, I am struck by certain words that recur in several messages: vast, amazing, easy, distraction. I think these are interesting words often linked with web experience. Like somehow the web makes us all into emperors or some sort of supermen and superwomen able to leap tall knowledges . . .

At the same time, reading is not easy; we can still just read one word, one screen at a time, in time; and my own life online is often not distracting or distraction at all, but deeply engrossing, part of my work and social life, part of my parenting (when I write to my daughter's teacher), part of my political participation (when I read and respond to legislative alerts, for example).

It makes me think about how mysterious knowledge is -- how available and inaccessible, in Natalie's terms.

I am glad to be in this project with all of you.

the conversation: present and future
Name: Paul Grobstein (
Date: 11/15/2004 13:40
Link to this Comment: 11574

Many thanks to all we have taken the time to look over our Serendip reflections and leave your thoughts both about those and about the broader issues of what there is to learn from the interaction between education and the web. As Alice says, the "voices mingling" are very much what this forum is all about. Its an experiment in progress, a testing of the proposition that we can all become wiser through hearing and contributing to a diversity of experiences and perspectives. So far, so good, at least for me.

Very much looking forward to further thoughts/conversation. Please don't feel reluctant to post comments critical of Serendip, of particular uses of the web (including this one), or of the general notion of web use in relation to education. The web is with us. Whether for better or for worse is largely a function of what we individually and collectively decide to do (or not do) with it. In that light, all perspectives are not only welcome but important in shaping our collective future.

Reflection #4: What's really true?
Name: Amanda Boehlert (
Date: 11/15/2004 20:32
Link to this Comment: 11584

I feel that the web is a great place for information, communication, etc., and that it should be more widely used in education; however, I guess my problem in the question of what is really truth and what is fiction? I hear horror stories all the time about students getting information off the web and then having all these misconceptions or getting an answer wrong on a test...'but I got it off the Internet!' Obviously, not everything on the Internet is true and I believe it is frustrating for students to have to continually check their sources so as they're getting the quote right or not copying anybody.

Now I realize that educators know this, but this also brings up the question of how much freedom of searching and communicating does a student really have with if an educator has to constantly "watch their back" so they student does cite something that hasn't been verified or to have to tell the students, 'OK, don't go to this, this, and this site because nothing there is true.' I say that the teacher would have to "watch a student's back" or tell them where to go and not to go, because I feel that that is the only way a student can really be safe when doing research, etc. on the internet. Perhaps this idea is a little far fetched, but I feel that the issue of what can one really believe on the internet and how is effects using the internet as a means of education is important.

Fact or Fiction?
Name: Talya Gates-Monasch (
Date: 11/16/2004 11:48
Link to this Comment: 11606

As many people before have mentioned, the internet is not exactly a clear authority on all issues. There are so many different opinions that trying to decipher the "right" one can be virtually impossible. I agree with Amanda, so much of the information found on the internet is false or misguided.

If you search a topic like anorexia (for example) you will not only find websited explaining the dangers of it, but you will also find many more websites offering "support" to those who want to keep starving themselves. And by support, I mean tips for how to do it more effectively. Now, I know that I am not an authority on this subject either, but...that's not healthy!!! Impressionable children won't necessarily be able to discern the fact from the fiction on the internet.
The unlimited sources on the internet can offer many advantages when trying to research anything, but in the process, one can find many things that aren't useful, and worse than that, harmful.

Despite the negative aspects of the internet for education purposes, when used correctly it can offer many resources, abilities, and connections that would otherwise be inaccessible. There needs to be guidance for children (and adults) who are learning to search and use the internet.

Name: Camille Porreca (
Date: 11/16/2004 21:25
Link to this Comment: 11619

The internet and other forms of technology provide easy access to information and tools to enhance education. However, it is also very easy for students to be over dependent on these tools. I agree with what Zack said above, that technology must “be used as a supplement to education as a whole.” Education should be more than plugging equations into a calculator or retrieving information from the internet. The internet is a great means to expand knowledge and communicate with others, but I fear that people will take everything for face value and not question the material.
I also observe a high school math class, and the class often uses their graphing calculators to perform various functions and experiment with graphs. Each class, the teacher uses the calculator to provide an accurate visual for the students. When used in this way, the calculator can be beneficial. However, there are times when the teacher seems surprised that the students did the problem by hand instead of using the calculator. I don’t think this should be happening; the teacher should encourage the students to not rely on the calculator. I think the students should have a good understanding of the theories and techniques behind the mathematical functions. This is also important because the calculator is not always right. Not all programs are perfect, and students must have the skills to recognize the problems and be able to compute themselves.
This can also be applied to the internet. We can not get rid of the misleading information on the internet, but we can teach students to recognize which information is not correct. Students should be able to analyze the vast amount of information in websites and know when information is inaccurate or bias, etc. Technology provides excellent opportunities to expand knowledge and share ideas, but there must be an emphasis on critical thinking in schools so technology can be used effectively.

initial thoughts
Name: Liz (
Date: 11/16/2004 21:38
Link to this Comment: 11620

I think the idea of an ever-changing educational space is very exciting. The idea that what you are reading at the moment you go to a webpage can be the most up to date information available (though this is of course not always the case if a website is not constantly updated) is such a great thought. Books do not have this ability to provide the most recent information and ideas. Not only are the ideas the most recent but they also allow for change. Books cannot be changed or improved while the internet can constantly change and modify ideas. I think internet-based learning represents a more accurate model for education. Nothing we learn is ever an end or an absolute, it is always being reshaped and always grows. The way that the internet can allow for these types of advances seems incredible.

I do agree that there are many problems with the internet as it is today. Anyway can make a page on the internet and this is a very scary idea. The internet is a fairly new phenomenon in education and there is much to be learned by both teachers and students. However, if we give students the skills needed to search the internet properly and to identify valuable resources, this could in itself be a great lesson. If students can differentiate the valuable from invaluable information, they will have an even greater understanding and appretiation of the material. I believe that there are ways that people can be taught to use the internet wisely and with this knowledge, the internet can serve as a great place to learn.

3 Questions
Name: Kristina Durante (
Date: 11/17/2004 10:59
Link to this Comment: 11625

Can one obtain a mulitcultural and well rounded education from having no classroom conatct?

Who regulates the information that we often find in research and naturally percieve to be true?

Can there be such a thing as too much of an emphasis put on technology in the classroom?

The Value of Human Interaction
Name: Laura Sharpless (
Date: 11/17/2004 12:02
Link to this Comment: 11626

While I agree with many of the comments that have been made, citing the advantages of technology-aided education, I continue to be naged by the question of what it means to teach our students by putting them in front of a machine. I understand that there is a lot to be gained by such an action (wealth of knowledge, personal authority over what is being learned) but I have to wonder what is being lost? Are we essentially saying to our students, "This machine will do a better job at teaching you than I can." Or to a greater extreme, "Teaching you myself is not worth my time." Little thought is being given to the loss of human interaction. To be computer savy is an undeniable advantage in today's job market and training students for that reality must be a part of modern education. I wonder, however, what trends in society are being perpetuated by increased use of technology in classrooms. Are we perhaps neglecting to encourage the compassionate and humanitarian side of our students? Are we teaching them that everything there is to know can be found on the internet? If we don't teach our students to interact with other humans in a possitive, creative, and instructional way, is it possible that they will learn to think that there is nothing to be learned from the people around them?

I understand that these are rather extreme questions to be asking and that in most cases, technology has not completely taken the place of discussion and interaction but I can't help but temper my positive feelings about technology with conerns I have over the trends I am seeing. If the level of technology becomes the measure of a good school, I can't help but be frightened by the qualities that value will foster in future students.

For example, I would much preffer to have had this discussion with my class face-to-face and i believe that I would have gained much more from it in terms of understanding their view

Name: xuan-shi (xlim@bmc)
Date: 11/17/2004 14:57
Link to this Comment: 11629

Fellow coursemates have voiced their concerns about the accuracy of information on the web and the lack of "human" contact. I think that it is important for us, as students, to be "masters" of and not "slaves" to the internet. The internet is simply another form of media and the best thing about it is that everyone is able to participate in the dialogue if they want to. It may even faciltate cross-cultural conversations because users are blind to the skin color/accent of fellow users. In this way, it is possible to have a more meaningful exchange of intellectual ideas or opinions. One may feel less inhibited about expressing one's thoughts, and it works well for students who are shy about speaking up during class discussions.

Some questions:
1. How can we build an educational network within the web that allows students to communicate with other professionals (who are not teachers)? Purpose: career development, mentoring etc.

2. How can we expand the "functions" of the internet for educational purposes? (online quizzes? online exams?)

3. Should there be a set of skills that students must acquire in order to benefit from the use of technology in the classroom? What are these skills?

more on the internet
Name: (Samantha)
Date: 11/17/2004 21:10
Link to this Comment: 11636

Certainly there is a lot to think about when using the World Wide web as an educational tool. While it's true that many sources are questionable on the internet, many more are viable places for information gathering and further analysis of any number of ideas, topics, concerns, and so on. I see the WWW being used in ways in my classroom (my placement) that utilize cd rom materials that are linked to educational websites where students can learn material that might not be accessible in their school.

There is a sense in the postings that using computers will somehow take away or replace human contact with students. I do not see this happening anytime soon, for it implies that all schools or that everyone has access to many or a computer. Technology is continually advancing and I do not think we can avoid the implications this has for the classroom, but I think it will be up to educators to decide how much technology to rely on in the classroom.

On a more practical note, typing for long periods and sitting in front of a computer is a real pain in the neck and hands! literally. Repetitive stress injuries are rising...

Better for who?
Name: molly (
Date: 11/17/2004 22:17
Link to this Comment: 11638

A question that Richard raised in one of the tech articles was this: "What level of technological competence should we except faculty and students to have?"
This question struck me and immediately caused me to respond with some of my own. What students/faculty? And where? The term "technological competence" seems so vast and inclusive of so many things. It is also relative to the role technology plays for the individual in society. There is no prototype for a "typical" public or private school classroom, because they are all so diverse in pedagogy, practice and population. Technology is not like high school Math, where if you know the prescribed set of "basic mathematics" - (Algebra, Geometry, Trig), then you are sent out into the world, presumably armed with all the knowledge you will ever need to know about that subject. "Tech" has become such a huge part of our lives and culture, affecting each of us in different ways. Therefore, is it realistic to assume that there should be a general level of competency that students possess by the end of 11th grade? Or 12th?
Another problem I have with incorporating technology more actively into the classroom setting, is the fact that some of the schools I have both worked in and attended have been totally lacking of any of the resources (such as computers, science labs or visual projectors)that would make this innovative form of education plausible. This is merely evidence of the fact that technology does not play an equal role in the education of EVERY student in ANY classroom. Technology DOES NOT come for free, and even though it has come to be seen as a "necessary" part of our education, it is still a priveledge that many are denied.
Don't get me wrong. I think that educating students about technology and incorporating it appropriately into the curriculum is an important and worthy longterm goal. It is easy to say that ed/tech is a great thing. My point is - great for who? Who is being prepared for the jobs that will demand such "competency", and what classrooms will benefit the most? By further incorporating technology into the classroom setting, are we actually widening the socio-economic gap between those who have access to such resources, and those who do not?

Responses and questions
Name: Darla (
Date: 11/17/2004 23:18
Link to this Comment: 11639

I've found this dialogue engaging and this venue exciting. To be in an education class, studying the subject of education and technology, and to complete an assigment on that subject by utilizing Seredip is neat.

I think it is true that we are "masters" of our own time and use of the Internet, to a degree. When we are at home, somehow finding ourselves with free time (someday after college), we can make a choice regarding our use of the Internet. When we are assigned to use it for the purposes of education -- researching, attaining syllabi, posting papers, making mandatory postings on a discussion board or in a forum -- we are no longer masters of our activity. We are, at least in the research aspect, to some degree victims of incorrect information. We are also forced into dialogues (on discussion boards, for example) that lack "humanity." My first question is whether that really matters. Is the goal of technology, and specifically the Internet, in education to present students with a world in which everything they read can be trusted? Are we aiming to give students the illusion that our modern age fosters long, meaningful dinners with those with whom we wish to communicate? We would decieve them. The sooner students learn how to discern fact from fiction, the better. And the sooner they learn how to interact via the Internet with others, the better. This is not to say that human contact or libraries are not important; it is simply to acknowledge that education should stay in current dialoge with technology.

I've seen a lot of interesting posts about how the Internet does or does not help with multiculturalism. Some say that because we are all words on a page, we are suddenly the same. Others say this sameness is an illusion; a facade that ignores important differences. For my second question, I would like to ask to both groups: rather than make us the same, can the Internet help us to embrace our differences? By allowing us a place to research anything in the world, we can educate ourselves about different cultures. By being able to fully consider each thing we say, we can speak more intelligently and considerately. By not having accents or faces attached to text, we can read it for its own merit regardless of our prejudices. It allows us to see one another deeply first, superficially second. The cake precedes the icing.

Thirdly, regarding the problem of incorrect or inappropriate content: I still believe that there is worth in a student stumbling across unfounded "facts." It teaches a student how to think, and how to question. There is another issue, and that is the issue of inappropriate material. The Internet is swarming with video clips of brutal violence, pages and pages of free pornography, and endless access to ... anything. For a third grader, this could be a serious problem. My third question is about rating systems. We already have warnings on adult content sites that one must be 18 to enter. Is it feasible to have a system of rating, similar to film and tv, which tells what age-level is appropriate to view a certain page? Is it feasible to have a similar rating system that tells us how "reliable" a site is?

I've really enjoyed reading everybody's comments. I hope the dialoge continues beyond our assignment.

Name: Camille (
Date: 11/17/2004 23:43
Link to this Comment: 11642

How can we ensure students think critically while using the internet and other forms of technology?

What role does instant messenger play in education? Does it deteriorate a student's language skills? Could it be used in the classroom to connect students with others in and outside of their community?

Name: Abbey Mann (
Date: 11/19/2004 00:22
Link to this Comment: 11667

Relating to a much earlier post, the accuracy issue in relation to the internet is such an important one. I feel that it's so hard with all the information that exists on the internet to know if what you are reading is accurate at all. Often times complete spurious things are posted as fact, this is disturbing. However, shared information is the whole point of the internet and so much of what learning consists of obtaining new knowledge and being able to discern for yourself whether or not you agree with it.

Furthermore, even with the trillions upon trillions of gigabites of data being searched through everyday by programs like google, the internet seems to be growing exponentially each day. At some point the truth must be able to outweight the lies that exist, making more easy to decide.

Ownership of Learning
Name: sarah taylor (
Date: 11/21/2004 15:48
Link to this Comment: 11707

I want to jump back to Dan's first post on this thread about whether we're using the internet as means or an end. We can talk as much as we want about what the internet gives us "access" to, but what is the nature of that access? If the internet is a way of becoming more multicultural in our approaches to the classroom, how genuine an experience can that multiculturalism be?

I fully acknowledge the wealth of information that the internet provides; in my opinion its convenience and ease are its greatest assets. The value of using the internet as a learning tool concerns me not so much because of the content and question of accuracy of available information (although this is certainly an issue), but because of the quality of the learning experience. It concerns me that technology is seen as such an asset to the classroom and that nobody seems to be questioning that. Whatever pedagogical choices we're making, we're sacrificing some other experiential possibilities. If kids are in front of computers all day accessing all this information, can they process it all? Are the methods of learning just as important as the information being learned? It seems like our parents were on to something when they questioned whether our generation would be able to do simple math if we started using calculators all the time. I wonder if we're losing some of our ability to learn from human interaction and cooperation because of spending too much time in front of computers. We're gaining a LOT from the integration of technology in education, but what are we losing?

another thought
Name: sarah taylor (
Date: 11/21/2004 15:51
Link to this Comment: 11708

Camille- sorry I didn't see your comment before I posted. I think you raise a really interesting question about the ability to think critically.

In response to your question about instant messenger, I'll tack on another question: how can we balance the value of 'expanding our horizons' and connections with the rest of the community with the fact that it seems so impersonal?

technolgoy adjusts itself`
Name: Googler (
Date: 11/25/2004 12:28
Link to this Comment: 11770

As we continue to question and ponder the uses of technology in the classroom...

There has been much discussion about what is correct information on the internet, especially when we do more and more research on the internet. One of the most popular search sites is trying to address this--Google.

Check out

questions and comments
Name: Alice Lesnick (
Date: 11/29/2004 14:57
Link to this Comment: 11784

Hello everyone,

I've enjoyed the scope and pacing of this project. At the same time, in our section we have not yet had a chance to talk about it face to face; we'll be doing that next week as part of closing the course. So one question I have at the outset concerns the interplay of online and f2f communication. My wish is to have had more time in the syllabus to move between them. This suggests that when we talk about/plan for teaching with computer-mediated communication, we need always to remember that we should also talk about the f2f accompaniment.

To the comments about the blurry distinctions between fact and fiction to be found online, along with the presence of statements more or less certified by processes of peer review, I want to add the thought that perhaps ongoing experience of online writing will help us as readers to be sensitive to standpoint as a feature of any utterance. In other words, the teller is always part of the told.

Another question I have concerns manners for online exchanges. There is something liberating in the release from embodied forms of politeness that online talk occasions. At the same time, I miss acknowledgement of my ideas when I put them out there and no one responds. In person, there might be a nod or some eye contact to signal some kind of uptake; online, the silence does not speak so I can hear it!

Finally, I love the idea that Xuan-Shi raised about using the Internet to facilitate students' communication with professionals. In my new course next term I have planned just such a thing, through asking students to post on Serendip drafts of sections of a handbook the class will be writing so that professionals and peers we invite to be reviewers/feedback-givers can contribute to the writing's development through an online comment period.

Thanks, everyone.


the conversation/experiment
Name: Paul Grobstein (
Date: 12/16/2004 16:37
Link to this Comment: 11981

"I hope the dialogue continues beyond our assignment". Me too. VERY much. This has been a very rich and valuable conversation for me, and I hope/think for others too, not only in this class but more generally. Many many thanks to all involved. And, yes, hopes that people will stay involved as the conversation continues. Here and elsewhere.

My own sense is that many of the concerns expressed here about technology and the web in education are quite legitimate and important. Interestingly, though, while technology/the web help bring the concerns to mind most of them are not SPECIFIC to the web/technology, ie they have always existed and will exist in any technology context unless addressed specifically as general educational problems. There is nothing new, for example, about the need to help students learn to separate "fact" from "fiction", nothing new about educational disadvantages associated with a relative lack of money, nothing new about needing to show students the benefits of appreciating differences among human beings rather than using them to discriminate. To the extent this is true, the thoughts here support the idea that, if nothing else, the web "provides an environment in which ideas about education can evolve and be tested for subsequent use ... in educational environments of all kinds."

I do think though that the discussion here supports something more than that, the idea that the web is, in addition, not only an unprecedented information resource but also a new and powerful way for humans to become engaged participants in broader sharing of ideas and hence in the shaping of cultural stories. It shouldn't, and won't of course, replace face to face contact (or any the other ways we have to share stories) but it can and does add distinctively and powerfully to the capability of individuals to shape their own lives and, in so doing, to play a greater role in collective stories. This conversation itrself seems to me testimonial to that potential.

In the most immediate terms, the conversation has led to some changes in the Serendip Education and Technology section, so if you haven't visited there recently go back and see (and of course leave any thoughts about the changes if you're inclined). And in the longer run ... we'll see what we have wrought (or at least contributed to). "silence does not speak so I can hear it", but that doesn't mean seeds haven't been planted. Keep in mind that things said here are (because of the web) in a form that others can yet hear.

Looking forward to working with Alice next term and to whatever things yet unknown develop from what has been done here so far. My thanks again to all.

new/not new
Name: ()
Date: 12/16/2004 22:01
Link to this Comment: 11986

Hello everyone,

I appreciate what you write, Paul, about how many of the concerns voiced in our forum are not new and in fact have long been noted. It occurs to me in this connection that the advent of the web may be renewing pedagogical inquiry in potentially useful ways.

I like the changes you guys have made to the Serendip page. The invitation to others to participate in and co-author the inquiry is much more dramatic, central, and overt. The pictures are engaging, as well.

More to come . . .


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