Thursday, September 19, 2013

Should Everything Be Done Digitally?

I stood at the front door, holding it open, welcoming students to a brand new school day.  I noticed one or two middle schoolers carrying cardboard trifold displays.  Then a poster.  Then another trifold.  It's obviously Project Day somewhere in the school.  And my techie brain immediately thought, "There are so many ways that can be done digitally!" I immediately rattled off four or five apps or sites that would present the same information but could promote digital learning, with zero cost, and could be posted online for the world to see.

As one familiar student walked in, "What class is that for?"
The student struggled to carry the trifold in, "Science," and kept huffing it into school.

Argh. I know the science teachers and wonder why they didn't ask me for ideas.

Another familiar student came in with a poster rolled up.  "What is that? What was the project?"
"It's for science. We had to pick a country."
"Countries in science.  This is interesting."

I have no idea what the learning objectives were. I have no idea of the cross-curricular goals of science and geography, but I started to soften toward the physical aspect of the project.

I admittedly will lean toward the tech solution in school every time. It's my job.  It's who I am.  There is value in students doing things digitally.  As a school, we need to push the digital tools to help them learn and work and function in tomorrow's world (and today's too).

But, as I stood there and greeted students, my mind began to wander in the background.  Isn't there also value in using scissors and glue, crayons and markers?  Isn't there value in taking a physical space and making it into something creative, neat, and informative?

I got the name of the teacher, and she is no tech sloucher.  In fact, she is a grandmother who is learning the tech as she goes and eagerly accepts tech input.

And I started to realize that there is value in diversity.  If our teachers only play the "tech" card, they miss out on reaching the kids who learn best with messy fingers.  If our teachers only play the "research and write a report" card, they miss out on reaching the kids who learn best by making a creative masterpiece.  If they only play the "make a poster" card, they miss out on reaching the kids who learn best by taking multiple choice tests... I mean, through writing.

And that leaves me with the question, "Should everything be done digitally?"

What do you think?

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