Wednesday, January 12, 2005

 

The "Curriculum" Word

Debbie and I agreed that the term "curriculum" may be causing some confusion. If it causes confusion among committee members, it may also cause confusion among parents. Can we get a consensus on the meaning? For example, if we say "Laptops will enhance the curriculum for students", do we really mean "enrich course content"? Or do we mean "expand the kinds and types of courses available to students"? Are there places where 'course content' is more appropriate wording.
Laptops are not going to change the fundamentals of what is being taught; parents need to understand that. Curriculums are prescribed to some extent, aren't they? Therefore, in persuading the populace of the necessity of the the laptop environment, I think we should be careful in how the term is used. The less jargon, the better.
So, I am a parent (suppose): convince me to buy a laptop by telling me it will enhance my child's curriculum. Kind of falls flat, doesn't it?

Comments:
You make a good point here. The power of laptops is not for the delivery of curriculum or a set body of knowledge. We need to change the way that we teach to fit the world that we live in. We need to become constructivist in our approach to learning. People need to become life-long learners and that is why we need empower our students with the technology and opportunity to explore ideas and practice hands on learning. Everyone of them will use this technology in the workplace when they enter into it. That should be the thrust of our program....empowering out students to ask their own questions and find their own answers. We need to face the idea or at least the possibility that how we do things now isnt going to work for very much longer. Technology extends the power and scope of imagination. This part of the plan isnt about curriculum it is about method.
 
I disagree with Norm in the context of our Tech Plan. I think it is essential that we convey to parents that we will be enriching and extending the content currently conveyed through the school's curricula. To sell parents on the idea of becoming a laptop school, we need to communicate how it will benefit students, in concrete terms. We can't just talk about reinventing teaching, putting students in charge of their own learning, etc. We need "sound bites" that let parents see how laptops will benefit their kids today compared to the status quo. Yes, we need to reinvent teaching, but I don't see that as a compelling sales pitch for parents.

Regarding the use of the term "curriculum" I agree with Louise that we need to persuade the populace in clear, concise, jargon-free terms and concepts. In that regard I will defer to the professional educators on appropriate language. So what is it we are enriching and extending? Where in the school environment do we expect to see benefits from using laptops?
 
Sandy, you are absolutly right. We need to get down to the concrete. Here is the first concrete benifit that I see.

Electronic Portfolios. One of the great benifits of a computer is its ability to remember everything. When every student has a laptop we can begin to create records of all of the work that they do here at St. Mary's. Every note they take, every homework they hand in, every test they take, every paper they write, every powerpoint presentation they prepare, every email they exchange with a teacher, every instant message conversation that they have, every math problem that they work, every exam they are handed back, can be stored and accessed on the laptop for immediate access, anywhere, anytime. No more I can't find it, no more the dog ate it, no more divisions between classes and disciplines. The student's computer becomes an interdisciplinary storehouse of information for them to use and share.

At recommendation time, a student can present the teacher with a record of the work they did together in class. Guidance no longer will need to rely solely on grades to present a student's accompliments. Each student will be able to put together, if that student chooses to, a picture of their best intellectual work while here at St. Mary's. They will not only have electronic records of their sports accomplishments (videos, dvds) but also of their intellectual accomplishments. Students could present videos instead of essays to colleges they wish to attend. Electronic portfolios would set us apart.

Everyone having a laptop, 24/7 makes this possible. You can't do it with carts. You can't do it as well with carts, because the student isnt working on a computer all the time with the cart paradigm.

Having all of your work and explorations available to the you also opens the possibilty of having the raw material necessary to write a significant senior thesis as a capstone to your STM experience. That would also set our students apart.

Imagine the storaqe capacity that we have to share with 600 laptops with 80G hard drives..... that is 48000 Gigs of community storage....and the processing power of all of those computers.......all joined in a single learning network here at STM.

That is the emerging business paradigm in the world. Laptops will give our students real time experience in that paradigm. That is why we need them.
 
Sandy, you are absolutely right. We need to get down to the concrete. Here is the first concrete benefit that I see.

Electronic Portfolios. One of the great benefits of a computer is its ability to remember everything. When every student has a laptop we can begin to create records of all of the work that they do here at St. Mary's. Every note they take, every homework they hand in, every test they take, every paper they write, every PowerPoint presentation they prepare, every email they exchange with a teacher, every instant message conversation that they have, every math problem that they work, every exam they are handed back, can be stored and accessed on the laptop for immediate access, anywhere, anytime. No more I can't find it; no more the dog ate it, no more divisions between classes and disciplines. The student's computer becomes an interdisciplinary storehouse of information for them to use and share.

At recommendation time, a student can present the teacher with a record of the work they did together in class. Guidance no longer will need to rely solely on grades to present a student's accomplishments. Each student will be able to put together, if that student chooses to, a picture of their best intellectual work while here at St. Mary's. They will not only have electronic records of their sports accomplishments (videos, DVDs) but also of their intellectual accomplishments. Students could present videos instead of essays to colleges they wish to attend. Electronic portfolios would set us apart.

Everyone having a laptop, 24/7 makes this possible. You can't do it with carts. You can't do it as well with carts, because the student isn’t working on a computer all the time with the cart paradigm.

Having all of your work and explorations available to you also opens the possibility of having the raw material necessary to write a significant senior thesis as a capstone to your STM experience. That would also set our students apart.

Imagine the storage capacity that we have to share with 600 laptops with 80G hard drives..... That is 48000 Gigs of community storage....and the processing power of all of those computers.......all joined in a single learning network here at STM.

That is the emerging business paradigm in the world. Laptops will give our students real time experience in that paradigm. That is why we need them.
 
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