Thursday, February 28, 2008

Class Notes on-line - Good idea?

I recently had a conversation with one of our history teachers who is also interested in using technology to better his teaching. He has done a little bit of work on our new school website, drupal, and has stopped. He would like to post his in-class notes on-line and allow the students more choice. However, this poses a few problems:

1. Are you notes credible enough for the world to see?
2. Will this encourage laziness?
3. Does this take away from the obvious need for students to practice writing?
4. What do you do with the vacant time traditionally used for note taking?
5. If we don't teach them note taking skills, are we preparing them for the work world?

I am tentative to put notes on-line, especially since I am from an ELA background. I believe in the the severe need for students today to practice Writing, Reading and arithmetic. I am frightened when I look at my own teaching practices and how many times I have not given sufficient time for students to effectively practice the skills they need.

"We are beginning to use these (computers) as a crutch not a tool" - Kevin Burningham (ELA teacher)

I agree, students are too willing to use a crutch in life today, as teachers I am afraid we would be hurting our students more than helping them if we allow or even encourage them to use a crutch.

Like my great grandfather always says, "Everything is good in moderation." - Alan Bexson (104 yrs old)


Donna said...

OK – for what its worth – here are my thoughts on the questions you posed.

First of all – how many times in the work world do we sit and take notes from a speaker? I will take a few reminder notes at a meeting but usually rely on a secretary to take and send out notes. Also – new technologies e.g. digital records, live blogging, archived video, etc facilitate access to the information.

As to the issue about laziness and vacant time – could not this time be used for more engaging activities? Perhaps the students could be examining the pertinent issues, creating summaries and posting them on the wiki – thus creating their own ‘notes’.

I am not sure what you mean by the need to practice writing? Do you mean learning how to paraphrase and summarize? This is an important skill and while I think it is important to learn to do this by listening to a speaker, including a teacher occasionally students should also be doing this from a wide variety of media.

As for the question about the credibility of the notes I think that we need to encourage teachers to share their course content as much as possible. Teachers so often work in isolation and fear that what they do is not ‘good enough’. We want students to have a broader audience for what they create and we teachers should also strive for a greater audience to enable conversation and learning.

Eldon said...

Thank you for your comments Donna. I like the wiki idea and creating notes together. In fact, I have changed my Macbeth unit to do a similar type note taking, using a scribe.

The comment on practicing writing had to do more with the physical practice. Legibility is an issue with a number of high school students. The skill of cursive writing is almost completely lost never mind the severe lack of spelling skills, due to the spell check crutch.

I also agree with the comment of teachers teaching in isolation. The teacher I spoke with is a young teacher and I believe, due to some harsh criticisms from superior admin., is afraid of exposing a mistake. I believe mistakes are inevitable and that that is were learning can really happen.