SO, after a few months of doing the Going Native with the in class chat room, music and open ended environment ( see Going Native blog) and then reading Mark Prensky new blog on the Digital Natives . I feel it was the right move, and the students seem most comfortable with the dynamic. There is no doubt that at first the students kind of saw this as a candy store with no attendant. Why? Well as far as I know there are not many classroom situations were students are encouraged to engage in online chat and be able to listen to music while they work. The concept of multitasking I think is still percieved as not being able to focus on one task thus not being able to produce at the highest level. This multitasking is seen as a negative aspect of todays generation and percieved by many adults with bad light. As mentioned in my initial blog on this topic Going Native and doing a lot of reading by Mark Prensky it seemed that this was a worthwhile concept to actually try in class. The kids themselves in their class reflections for the course seemed to feel that this multitasking environment was the norm, and they felt they performed better and more effectively. Many parents who I talked to during parent conferences brought up this issue of their children being online doing multiple online tasks while doing homework. It was an issue for them, but some said they felt if their grades were not affected by this then let it be! Others saw this as a huge distraction to their concept of good homework behavior and had home restrictions and limits on kids accessing the internet.
I did mention in these conversations with the parents the environment we had created in the course, and how at first kids seemed a little out of control with the chat room but over a week they quickly self monitored themselves and at this stage use it then and now for mostly class related issues. I think as with anything with many adolescents, intially there is excitement and then the novelty fades. I had maybe a harder time as the facilitator allowing the chaos, and trying to understand that kids need a trial period, and trust actually in their self monitoring powers, a letting go, fear of loss of control …always a little hard for educators maybe 🙂
With the music (ipods, mp3 players etc…) kids have said they find that with their favorite tunes on, they felt it insipired their creativity and created a more dynamic environment for them. Interestinly enough a component of this was the issue of ipodtiquette. Appropriate behaviors in class with ipods. We talked about when I the teacher/facilitator was speaking ipods should be off and a way to show this was to take the headphones off. Another was sharing ipods, with each partner having one ear plug if you were working in a group. In the effort to avoid having a group working together and some members with ipods on and others not. We talked about key times for ipod use in class. For example when students are working independently on a project or process or in small groups but again honoring their partner by sharing the ipod or usign the computer CD drive and dual jack headphones. I find this whole process and topic again such a strong indication of how technology can change cultural expectations in the classroom.
Anyway I am continuing the Going Native philosophy with this the course, and feel it was the right choice. I have done little ot push this further apart in my class, and this is not something I feel I have an audience for amongst my collegues or supervisors in my present school setting at ASIJ…