Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Class vs. Real World Apps

The book I blogged about a few days ago--In Command--arrived yesterday. It's fantastic, so far, and fortunately one of our new teachers in the high school is looking for a place to build a collaborative space for his students, so I can actually play around with this.

But here's the thing: our school forks out thousands of dollars a year for First Class. For obvious reasons, they want us to use it. I'm not going to go into its limitations here. What I'm wondering about these days is whether we're doing our students a disservice by using a tool they won't have access to once they leave King.

We're supposed to train students to be thoughtful users of technology and media. Yet if we do everything behind the safety of the firewall (and F.C.), what are we teaching them? Certainly not how to use Web 2.o tools--how to evaluate them for their usefulness, how to mold them to their needs.

And First Class is still very teacher-focused: teachers create the forums, add the content, etc. What I especially like about the book's ideas of using Google to create personal learning spaces is that it's very interactive. Sure, teachers add content, but so do students, and they create the space to their own design and needs, rather than a generic one-size-fits-all.

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