Friday, March 4, 2011

Journal 4: It's Time to Trust Teachers with the Internet: A conversation with Meg Ormiston

Schaffhauser, D. (2010). It's time to trust teachers with the internet: a
conversation with meg ormiston. T.H.E. Journal, Retrieved from
Dian Schaffhauser interviews cirriculum coach/school board advisor/conference presenter/proffesional development specialist/grant facilitator Meg Ormiston about all the obstacles in place that are preventing elementary, middle and high school teachers from using the Internet effectively as an education tool. The obstacles include such nuisances as built-in software that blocks out certain websites, presumably based on key words, even if the sites are perfectly suitable to the students, lack of technical know-how on the part of administrators who block everything because they don't know what to block on the school computers, and issues of bandwidth tempering the influx of videos, photos, and text students have access to. The unfortunate consequence of so much shutdown is that many teachers give up using computers altogether, crippling their students learning. Moreover, when web access is hamstrung so strongly at school, students are stripped of the opportunity to learn how to use such websites as youtube and flickr effectively; instead they are losed into the wilderness without a leash. What needs to change is the attitude administrators have toward their teachers and their students and start trusting the former to use the Internet wisely, so they in turn can teach their students how to use the Internet wisely. Ormiston propses a "tiered approach" involving opening up websites a little at a time, first to teachers, then to students, so as to get everyone acclimated to using the resources responsibly.

Question 1: What can students do to be more proactive about freeing up the gridlock that Internet access in school apears to be stuck in?

Students can research websites that they feel are appropriate to mastering their cirriculum and show them to their teachers.  If they take the initiative in demonstrating responsibility, this could get their teachers to trust them to use the web wisely. Teachers in turn can relay this to their administrators, the better to earn trust from them with respect to using the Internet maturely in the classroom. 

Question 2: Who else should be involved in rectifying this porblem besides students, teachers, and administrators?
Parents should come forward with concerns they might have about their children not knowing how to use the Internet responsibly, or they can teach their kids themselves. Politicians should also be aware of the issue as well; as with other resource shortages in schools, the problem of funding is ever-present and teachers, principals, parents, and other concerned citizens should petition their state congressman or whoever for more funding which can go toward buying more hardware and/or software that would permit more Internet time in classrooms.

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