TED Talks: Alan November

I recently watched this YouTube video of TED Talks featuring Alan November as speaker. In the video, he addresses the way that technology should be used to build a classroom community and curriculum from the ground up, and the impact that it can have on students when a teacher really pulls it off.

In the video, Alan November said, “This is not about adding technology. It’s a fundamental shift in relationships and roles and the feeling of empowerment that students have.” This is a really great way to sum up my prior misconceptions about technology in the classroom. I was always looking for a way to “add in” technology, almost like an afterthought, to fulfill state standards. Generally, I ended up using technology to do something that the students could have easily done without it (composing papers on a word processor rather than on a notebook page or giving lectures with a PowerPoint rather than writing my notes on the board). However, it’s obvious after watching this TED Talks video that embracing technology should mean so much more than that—it should be the driving force behind what we’re doing in the classroom (rather than an afterthought), and it should empower students to take charge of their own learning in a way that they couldn’t without technology.

I also really like what he mentions about using technology to give students a global voice and a means to enact social change. Students should use technology to enhance their problem-solving skills by identifying a problem and using web tools to find a solution to that problem. Plus, when students are able to publish that information to the internet and share it with the world, their classroom activities are no longer “busy work.” Suddenly, students are in charge of their own learning and pushing themselves farther than their teachers ever dreamed possible.