I like how you compare the Thinking With Technology Tools with Web 2.0 tools like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter usually do not demonstrate the thinking behind a post. I have a couple of related questions:
- Are the Thinking With Technology Tools as easy to use as Facebook and Twitter?
- Do youth find the Thinking With Technology Tools as easy to use as Facebook and Twitter?
- When teachers or students use the Thinking With Technology Tools do they realize they can edit and change what they do?
I look forward to hearing more from you and others on these questions.
Ratan, even though the Intel Thinking Tools are different, there is one way they are similar. The teacher does have the ability to communicate with the individual student as they are working with the Seeing Reason tool. As you have stated, students feel better if they feel the communication tool is secure. That is one of the reasons I like the Thinking Tools. We can communicate with our students and no one else knows what our discussion is about. From that standpoint, it is even more secure than Facebook or Twitter.
Have you had the chance to use the Intel Thinking Tools in your classroom? I would love to hear about the success you have had and those disappointments as well. We can all learn from the things that go wrong and correct our mistakes and make the learning experience better for our students.
Another real benefit of the online tools in my school is that you don't need any specific software to use them and to be downloaded to the computer and there is no cost to them. Most of our school in my area do not allow the students or teachers to access Facebook in schools. I have used the Intel online tools a great deal. I think as a teacher my favorite is the Assessment tool. The Visual Ranking is so quick and easy to use for teachers and students. I agree with Neil that the individual feedback you can give a student or group is a real plus.
I would agree that things like Facebook and Twitter are user friendly, but those are blocked in many schools. I am a big fan of helping students learn to use Google Applications. For example, last night I was teaching a college course and had the students collaborate using a Google doc to take shared notes on the assigned chapters. Each group posted their notes in the document I created. When we are done everyone will have all the key ideas, have had some great discussions and have not spent tons of hours reading. They were very responsive and positive about the collaboration. Many of them will probably do this on their own for future courses.
People (Students) are either going to use Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking or not. If not, there is no issue; if so, then the issue for educators seems to me to become twofold:
- Do teachers take advantage of this usage or not? If not, no more issues; if so, then we must ask ourselves why are we doing it and how then to use these tools effectively?
- Secondly, how will students react to this "adult invasion" of their world? If they accept it, no problem; if they are angry or feel spied upon, then negative issues become multiplied, which will then demand totally different tactics depending on the teacher reaction.
Online tools of all sorts are available, leading some educators to believe there is at least one for almost every educational need (I reservedly concur). As always though in my opinion, the teacher sets the uses, tone, and quality of the lesson and its effectiveness.