Allowing students to teach

They know a heck of a lot, and when it comes to technology, they know way more then me and I’m the one who’s employed to know it.

It’s a scary thought, but one that is real and if we can get to a point that it’s OK to ask them to teach us it changes relationships and learning on many levels.

After having issues with my laptop last week during a Shifting Our Schools podcast I decided that it was time to take the plunge for real and try out Ubuntu. I’ve been wanting to play with it for awhile now and decided that now is the time.

So over the weekend I installed it and started playing. My goal is to turn the laptop into a podcasting machine. I know I can load Skype, Audacity, and some virtual audio cables to make the whole thing work like is should.

So I downloaded Skype and Audacity and took about 3 hours to try and figure out what to do with the files once I downloaded them. Frustrated I gave up.

Today I came to school, went to the office and asked for the schedule of one of the our students who I know runs Ubuntu and loves Linux. I found her in class and asked if she had some free time and could stop by and help me out. Sure enough she took her study hall time to stop by and in a matter of about 30 minutes she taught me enough to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks.

The interesting part was to watch and see what she wanted to make sure I had installed. I asked her to teach me how to install programs.But before she could teach me that she needed to first show me how to install some cool features. Like the switching of screens in cube form, how to paint fire, and some other simple add-ons. She then downloaded an audio playing program for me, telling me I just had to have this one, and then showed me how to check for updates. Only after all that did she show my how to download programs and install them using the built-in installer.

Sometimes teachers feel like they have to know it all. Like we need to understand the technology before we are able to use it. I don’t think that is necessary true. What I think educators need to focus on is the Why. Why do we need to use this technology? Is what teachers get paid for. Ryan Bretag had a great post about just this the other day on the techlearning blog titled: The Missing W

However, skipping the why because of the excitement of the what and how is a poor practice to get caught up in for educator and it surely is unacceptable for those in roles to assist educators in such planning.

I agree with Ryan. The why question is the pedagogy, is the curriculum. The kids and the support can help with the what and how. But understanding the why is what teaching is all about.

Why do we teach reading?
Why do we teach writing?
Why should my students be blogging?
Why should we use a wiki for this project?

These are the questions that teachers need to focus on and are the questions that we as educational technology supporters need to help them answer. The why is more important then the what and how. Those can be taught or in many cases students already know the how or can learn it very quickly.

We have smart kids! We need to be open to learning the how from them, but as educators we are paid to know the why!

[tags]21st Century Learning[/tags]

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