Wednesday, June 29 at the NECC in Philadelphia, we [student presenters from around the world] spent a great deal of time working on our presentation on the student perspective of education, technology in education and the future of education. We each made sure we knew what we were going to say during the panel of questions. Mike and Jennifer worked on the TakingITGlobal portion of the presentation which would briefly cover what TakingITGlobal is doing for students, and Luke had the long task of preparing the slides for the background of the presentation. There is a final report of Student Voices on the website, and I hope I am correct in saying there will also be the slide show at some point that shows other international student perspectives from the discussion boards. Following is my notes on what I had to say during the panel:
First we introduced ourselves by answering the questions: When did you first use a computer? When did you first use the internet? What has been your contact with technology in the past month? My answers:
I was lucky to have a father working as a computer systems analyst growing up. When I was about four years old, he brought home a terminal and put it in our basement. It was exciting to see and even more exciting to be able to type on, despite the fact that at the time my typing did nothing to it. Throughout my childhood my dad brought home more computers. I watched him as he worked on them, as he fixed any problems, and quickly learned how to operate the computer using a DOS prompt. My favorite activities were first word processing and games, but eventually also programming in QBASIC. At school, on the other hand, computers were most often used to play educational games, such as Word and Math Munchers or a learning-to-type program.
I remember at the age of 13, hearing my best friend Sylvia talk about the Internet. Her brother had introduced it to her, and she had become a part of a teen chat room, in which teenagers talked about all sorts of adolescent issues. Eventually, Sylvia become an online counselor in this very same chat community. At 14, after what seemed like begging forever, I received email, but it wasn't until the age of 15 after more begging that I first access the internet in my home. I felt it opened up a whole new world of resources to me.
Recently, technology surrounds me. The first thing I do in the morning is turn on my computer. I check my email account, actually all four email accounts, and blogs, both personal and edublogs. I am always on instant messengers; not that I am always talking, but I find it nice to have immediate access to discussions or at least messages to friends close by, family, friends far away, or people I've met across the world. I have my iPod with me often. My cell phone is always in my pocket, and I am often text messaging friends about random happenings or what we're going to do for dinner. At university, my life was surrounded by technology. My first contact with teachers is often through email. We use BlackBoard at the University of Kansas so many of our assignments and quizzes are posted online. We have several computer labs that I have found very useful day to day and when working on projects that require internet, word processors, photo/art editors, Powerpoint and much more.
The first panel question was: How has technology impacted your life? My answer:
My life would not be the same without technology; it just wouldn't be my life anymore. I depend on technology for learning, communication and entertainment. I use technology, particularly the internet as several resources to see others' experiences and perspectives. I do not live in the most diverse environment, and I have discovered that with technology, I can find someone with knowledge and experiences in any topic to learn from. I do not have to see only one point of view of the world, which can often be the case in a classroom.
The second question was: How do you like to learn?
I like learning to be an integral part of my life. I learn in everything I do both in and out of the classroom. I enjoy learning from others, others' views, values and experiences. But in the classroom, I like learning to be discussion based so that I can learn from peers, teachers and other educators. I enjoy teaching others so that I have the opportunity to feel like I am both helping and I have become an expert in a topic, and I like learning to be project-based. One experience of my project base learning was in sixth grade. I took math in the morning outside of class so that during class I often had nothing to do while my peers were learning math. My teacher encouraged me to work on our my projects about math. I choose to study Pythagoras. I wrote a short report about him, but also discovered he had studied frequencies. Learning from his studies, I found/created a formula to calculate the frequencies of each piano key and created a chart that was place on a wall outside of the classroom for everyone to see. This was one of my favorite project-base learning experiences, not only because it was a project instead of worksheets, but because I was able to take on, choose and discover the project myself.
The third question was: How does your ideal classroom look and feel?
The whole world. I want to learn from inside, outside, all around the country and all around the world. I enjoy active learning. I want to learn from experiences and other people's experiences. Professionals who are working in the areas in which use the skills we are learning in the classroom. I enjoy learning from my peers; I have learned a great deal from the other panelist, who are from around the world. But within an indoor classroom, I like the idea of student investment in the classroom. The teacher and students should be able to discuss and decide together where the furniture in the room goes, what the day's schedule is, what activities they prefer, and contribute to the decorations on the walls.
The final question: What are your dreams and concerns for the future of education?
Very simply, I would like to see all children around the world educated equally. More specifically, all children should be taught compassion, a love for learning, critical thinking and celebration of the world's diversity.
I think the panel went quite well. The first session at the National Consitution Center was very enthusiastic with a great deal of applause, but the second was much quieter. Still we had several very interesting questions following each presentation, both individually and while we were still on stage. Several teachers loved what we had to say because it was exactly what they were trying to do in their schools. They expressed an increase in motivation from our enthusiasm and passion. Many wanted to go back to their schools and try harder to bring technology and better educational tatics to their school, even though their fellow teachers did not understand the need. I was very excited and enthusiastic after hearing their response.
In back is Luke (TIG Education Manager), Mike (TIG co-founder and Technology Director) and Dilmurod(Uzbekistan student). Front Shraddha(Nepal student), me and Cherrie(New Zealand student). This is us actually after the third presentation which was in Seattle. Jennifer was at the first one, but unfortunely there are no pictures including her.