Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Description of a Nine Week Program
In my bid to get a job teaching computers to middle school students, I have decided to plan my course in the open. If you are a teacher, or a student, or someone who uses computers (which if you are reading this...duh!) and you feel you have something you would like considered for educational purposes, mail me. If you want to give me feedback on the course I have designed, then by all means mail me. If you want to sell me cheap prescription medications....take a hike! I'm workin' here.
Guiding principals or Learning Intentions of this course:
1.) To use the computer to sharpen critical thinking skills
2.) To use the computer to produce work of equal or higher quality than that which can be produced using non-computer methods - Why use the computer when a paintbrush would be better. Use the right tool for the job. But then again, who is to say a paintbrush would be better*(see links below)
3.) To seek out and discuss ethical issuses - I say discuss because issues have two sides. Students have to feel no fear of speaking their mind. Otherwise we cannot have an open discussion, and we cannot change the way people think. I also say discuss because sometimes we cannot find the black and white answer; perhaps though we can at least agree on what shade of grey an issue is and agree to abide by a code of ethics accordingly. For instance - is it wrong to take the picture of a teacher and edit it with imaging software, and then post it? It may depend on the intent of the person editing and posting the photo. But perhaps we can agree to avoid this situation by agreeing to ask permission before taking a teacher's photo, and explaining what we would like to do with it before starting.
4.) To develop competency in using a variety of applications - art, science and math. Music skills, and of course literacy skills. After all it is a course on computer skills. James McConville introduced me years ago to the term "digital pencil." I think of the computer as the next tool in a student's creative toolbox.
I would like to advocate for free web based applications, and open source applications. This is a different approach from the norm. They are free applications, (free in the sense that you can use them for personal or educational use without paying), however there are drawbacks. They are not under district control, they could be discontinued for student use, terms of service could change, there are concerns about technical support being available. However I feel that web based apps and open source software offer two distinct advantages:
a) They are free
b) Lots of people are using them, and when students leave our doors, they will likely use some of these types of applications. Let's teach their proper use while we have their attention.
Next: The Lessons