Why do we inhibit???

So, I was working on some stats stuff this afternoon/tonight, looking for some kind of decent conclusion to be made between a control campus w/out 1:1 laptops and one with 1:1 laptops (middle school). WHAT I was doing with these statistics didn’t strike me as much as HOW I was doing it.

(I’ll tell you up front that this is an opinion piece rather than a connected/hyperlinked piece…read at your own risk!)

I started my work with some data analysis software (SPSS, for all those stats fiends out there(ok, I lied, there will be some links!)) that I am just learning. My first resource came in the form of a phone call to the person that collected the data, Gerald Knezek at UNT. He had the same software on his computer and we walked through a number of different ways to analyze the different variables. It amazed me how quickly I was able to pick up the use of this software, even though neither of us could see the other’s screen! Language, in regards to software and technology, has leveled out to the point where we can do that.

Later that evening, I was meeting with a colleague to continue work on said project. As we were meeting in person (with 2 PPT screens open, 2 SPSS windows, Firefox with WHO knows HOW many tabs running and email up and going), I noticed my father was on Messenger. “What are you doing?,” I asked. “Grading Statistics papers,” he replied! Sweet…live help! (He teaches Stats, among other things at Sterling College in KS.)

So, while working live with my colleague (who had his own laptop going), I was messaging my father to get valuable information about how to run some new and very functional reports (thanks, Dad), working on my computer, pulling data off of the web, jumping back-and-forth between PPT and SPSS and even managed to message a friend to let him know what I was up to (who could’ve cared less that I was playing with statistics).

It struck me. THIS is how it’s being done now! THIS is what kids need to be doing in AND OUTSIDE of school in an effective 1:1 implementation. It seems so random and attention deficit, but yet it works so well!

Another great illustration of this came through the Mac interface this past weekend as we went to relax to some live music at Standard and Pours, a Dallas coffee shop/local music scene. We were listening to one of the openers and I noticed a college aged girl sitting in front of us working on her PowerBook. That wonderful Mac interface demonstrated this concept SO fluidly, it was almost poetic! (we’re a windows shop here in Irving.) She was dancing back and forth between writing a paper of some sort, researching online, talking to two friends, browsing personal interest web sites, playing a game (which would pop up when the other player, apparently located somewhere else in cyber land, would make a move) AND actively listening to the performer on stage! A keystroke would move her around between the different windows, and when selected, would zoom that window to a larger work size - you know how Mac windows zip around the screen playfully… Then her friend would IM her, and that window would zip into view. After a quick response, she would flow back over to her paper and write a half a sentence more! My thought was how I would just love to see the flow of that writing! I couldn’t believe that it would be connected or fluid at all. BUT I WAS DOING THE SAME THING EARLIER TONIGHT!

Now, you may be thinking: “Well, Jerram, just look at your spastic writing - you’ve been A.D.D.’ing whilst writing THIS piece (which I HAVE been, by the way).” So what’s the point??!!

The point is, we give kids laptops and spend SO much time blocking, inhibiting, impeding, limiting and preventing them from connecting, despite the FACT that they should be connecting, flowing, working without limits and relating to the world - their world.

Well, it was Miguel’s note:

Discussions among technology directors focus, not on the best ways to use such technologies, but how to best block access to those technologies.

that got me started on this whole thing. I didn’t think I would bring it to the fore tonight, but out it came…

Sometimes, when you see the ‘real’ world compared to the real education world, you just wanna ask ‘WHY?’.

One Response to “Why do we inhibit???”

  1. astephens Says:

    Since students at the high school where I teach all have laptops, I witness the “multi-tasking” you describe on a daily basis. I also work with e-mail up, many tabs open, etc. and seem to get my job done in an acceptable manner (and a lot quicker than many of my colleagues who seem more focused than me). Many students do not seem to think in the linear way in which we teach… so, why do we, as educators, insist on teaching in this linear fashion? What might our options be to allow those students who thin more randomly to be successful as well? Any ideas?

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