Monday, September 15, 2008

Computer Assisted Creating

The computer is more than just a tool for remediation; it's a powerful tool for creating digital content. While remediation can be an effective use of students' time on a computer, I'm beginning to believe my students think that's all the computer is good for. Their first activity as a new transfer to our school is to take a computer-based reading test to reveal their reading level. Later that week, they take another computer based assessment to determine their math level. Each week, my students take a series of drill-n-kill basic math quizes in the computer lab. After that, they can take a test on the latest book they read. If they're lucky enough, they might be able to print out a picture or article on one of the classroom computers for their oral news report. Some students attend our after school program and work on English language development software programs while other kids focus on computer-aided reading improvement software.

Aside from creating an occasional word processing document, my students don't create a shred of digital content. This is beginning to frighten me. With the number of jobs requiring 21st century computer skills, how can I sit back and NOT teach kids to use technology to create products such as flash animation, podcasting, blogging, photo manipulation, web design, presentation software, game development, computer aided design, the list goes on. In order to get my students used to the idea of using the computer as a creative tool, I'm going to let them start their own blog. I'm using One of my students wants to have a sports blog and discuss the best plays of the weekend. Another student is going to blog about taking care of her various pets. A few students are going to write reviews of video games. I don't care what they blog about -- I'm excited to see how my students will respond to becoming content producers and not just consumers. How empowering!

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