What inspired this project?
Critical Thinkers of Tomorrow
Before I became a full time teacher, I spent two years as a substitute. My time as a sub allowed me the opportunity to visit nearly every school in my district. During my visits from school to school, one thing that became immediately obvious was the sheer quantity of technology. Whether forbidden or encouraged, today’s students are clearly accessing technology at school. Many schools and teachers have come to this undeniable conclusion and therefore, have attempted to embrace this new digital paradigm.
This transition has lead to many changes to the traditional classroom. Teachers are now supplied with laptops, digital document cameras and projectors, even smart-boards. Students are also provided computers or encouraged to bring their own devices. A second, more important change that this paradigm transition has lead to, is the skills required by students to succeed in class. Collaboration and Critical thinking being just two of them. While these are by no means "new" skills, the context and extent of these skills has undoubtedly evolved.
During my short years as a teacher, I have also realized that many educators, myself included, have given students a generous benefit of the doubt with regards to technological proficiency. Admittedly, today’s youth is highly experienced with digital devices. There is a whole generation of children who have grown up with screens in front of them. But are our students truly digitally literate? They have experience using devices for texting and posting to social media and are of course avid gamers. However, their experiences are primarily as consumers. The average student does not necessarily have experience with utilizing technology as creators. Students do not typically use their devices to innovate so much as for entertainment purposes.
I wanted to see my students using their digital powers for good, so to speak. Students already use technology for their personal communication, it wasn't a far reach to wonder if they might use it for professional collaboration as well. But to what end? What is the point in enabling and encouraging students to work together via technology? Could it really impact something as crucial as their ability to think critically? That's what I decided to find out.
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