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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

There is an important scene in the movie Hoosiers during the team's first practice. The coach, played by Gene Hackman walks into the gym and gathers the team together. He tells his team that practice is going to be different than what they are used to. The montage that follows highlights fundamental basketball. The boys are engaged in agility drills, ball handling drills, and a variety of defensive drills. Throughout the montage you hear players asking when they are going to shoot and scrimmage. Hackman replies, "There's more to the game than shooting! There's fundamentals and defense."

This clip is the perfect segue into incorporating technology devices - iPods, iPhones, iPads, laptops, etc. - into your classroom. Before students can, to use a basketball phrase, take a shot, they must understand the fundamentals.

While students and teachers alike are anxious to integrate new learning tools into the classroom, we must err on the side of caution. It is our responsibility to empower our students by giving them the fundamental lessons in digital citizenship.

Like basketball, students must enter the world of social media and digital media with a good defense. They must understand the repercussions of irresponsibly using social and digital media and what affects it may have on their future. Give students time to use the device, but make sure they understand that the device is an outlet to many new avenues.

When you are presenting social media and digital responsibility, don't lecture your students on why it is bad to post inappropriate pictures on Facebook, but have them search for examples. Allow the students to not only find examples of inappropriate use, but also allow them to teach each other. Even though they have a Facebook account, do they really understand all that comes with Facebook? Do they understand their privacy rights on Facebook and other social media sites? Did they read the fine print?

Show them how to navigate through Google and present the best defense against infowhelm.

Introduce them to the Google sidebar and give them opportunities to find information on a certain subject. Introduce your students to Creative Commons and challenge them to find images and music that have the correct licenses for use.

The best offense always begins with a solid defense. This is true in sports and is directly applicable to responsible use of classroom technology and social media. In my last post I encouraged educators to "Just Get Out There," but in this post I am pulling back on the reins a bit. While we want our students to get out there and use new and emerging technologies, we need to give them the fundamentals to play the best defense. Educate, before you integrate.

Comments (13)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Matt Messinger's picture
Matt Messinger
Creating education technology to help students learn.

I appreciated the interesting post and the apt Hoosiers reference. Another way to look at the "fundamentals" when it comes to social media and technology is that students and teachers need to start with easy, simple steps. Not because they can't handle complexity -- because they can. But in their busy lives the best way to handle complexity is to start simple and integrate technology to help students do what they're already doing -- only better.

Just as the Hoosiers bball team started with the basic fundamentals so should teachers and students start with the basics -- use technology to enhance a basic skill they're already doing -- and then deepen the technology integration over time.

Christine Brown's picture
Christine Brown
High School Teacher from New York

I like your idea of having the students teach each other. Rather then telling the students what they should/should not be doing, dangers, etc., they are able to research and find out for themselves. Then take owership of their findings and share them with their peers.

Adam Butchy's picture

As a student, digital citizenship is going to play a huge role in the next few years of my life. As a high school student, responsibility on the web (like posting appropriate pictures as you said) is necessary to a good digital reputation and this is what many teens forget or don't know. I agree with your stance but could you also blog about problems teens might run into rather than just teachers, in order to expand you audience.

Terbs44's picture

I totally agree with what you said. Im currently a senior at Monsignor Bonner and we are starting to put more technoligy into our classroom and curriculum. The students and teachers are able to use the new technoligy, but they are not able to use the technoligy to its full potential. So they need to learn how to use what is infront of them to what its made to be used for.

Nick Kowalski's picture

As a student in high school, I believe that teachers need to come to the realization that students no longer need to be taught the basic applications of technology, but teachers need to teach students the appropriate, effective, and responsible use of online tools. In addition, teachers need to help students grow into a digital citizen. The ability to correctly use technology for both personally and academically is a necessary component of digital citizenship. Like dribbling and passing, digital citizenship is a fundamental aspect of the use of technology.

Maria Newberry's picture

I like this idea because if students are just being lectured about what they're doing wrong they will just blow it off. Students don't want to hear what they're doing wrong, they want to see what is the right thing to do. If we show them how to have a good digital citizenship, then they will work harder to achieve that. By showing them from right and wrong, they're getting the information on how to have a good digital citizenship.

TheTeacherGeek's picture

Thank you for your post and your analogy. It gets me thinking about how to adapt this concept to the primary grades.

Ian Keller's picture
Ian Keller
Studying for Masters degree in Secondary Education majoring in English

I like the post because even if students have the know-how about using technology, they still need guidance and wisdom from adults, teachers, and parents on how to use it appropriately. Especially when the internet is such a dangerous place, or as you say "is an outlet to many new avenues." I love the fact that you bring up teaching students how to cope with infowhelm, how to be digitally responsible, and how to be familiar with copyright licensing and using sources appropriately. My only question is, Are you sure it is a good idea to assign students to look for inappropriate pictures on the internet? I think students, especially young males, might already have enough difficulty in using self-control concerning what they view on the internet. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean. Thanks

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