Friday, March 26, 2010

If Video Killed the Radio Star, Will the iPad Kill the Printed Book?

Yesterday morning one of my 6th grade advisory students asked me what the next big thing in technology would be. I just happened to have my latest issue of MacWorld sitting on my desk with a picture of the iPad on it claiming it to be a "revolutionary" tablet. I boldly replied to her question that the iPad is the most exciting thing coming out and that it would be out in just over a week.

As I was talking about the iPad one of my favorite trivia questions popped into my head. The question is what is the first music video ever shown on MTV? Of course in my discussion with these 11 year olds I had to teach them about the fact that MTV originally showed music videos all day as opposed to the reality mix they show today. Of course these students also thought that MTV had just been around "forever" since it launched in 1981 and they were born in 1998 (feeling really old now?). The answer to the trivia question of course is the song "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. Enjoy the music video.

Now my students were really confused... so I started to tell them my thoughts on the iPad and how I feel it will affect print media. I have thought for a long time that I would never see the end of the printed book in my lifetime. I have always felt it would be something that my children would see but not me. The release of the iPad is a huge step towards the death of the printed book and makes me think I just might see this in my lifetime now. People have gotten used to the idea of carrying their music around with them wherever they go. They will soon be able to do the same with their book collections using the iPad. Unlike my collection of books that fill the bookshelves in my home and a shelf at work I could have all my books together and most importantly searchable as they are digital. This device will revolutionize how people interact with the written word.

I know that many people are in love with the concept of curling up with a good book and the tactile joy of holding it in your hands. I've also been told that the smell of a book is another alluring feature. I personally feel that people will get over these issues and find the convenience of electronic books much more powerful. The other issue will become the economics of electronic books. As more and more people engage in the purchasing of electronic books the prices will fall. The expense of printed books will not allow publishers to make enough profits and force them to cease printing books to remain solvent.

My only question as I think about this is why will we need publishers when anyone can publish? How will the removal of print books democratize publishing. This is not that dissimilar to the music industry and independent bands. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who Is The Best Teacher You Ever Had? Why?

Katherine Schulten recently wrote an article for The Learning Network in the New York Times, "Who is The Best Teacher You Ever Had? Why?". I found the comments to this post tremendously interesting.

I used to do an activity in my course for pre-service Elementary Education students asking them to think about the two best teachers they ever had. After giving them a few minutes to think of those great teachers and the qualities they possessed that made them great I asked each student to give a quick talk about one of the two.

After completing this discussion we talked about the similarities these teachers had. Typically the discussion centered around these characteristics:
  • Demanding
  • Caring
  • Passion
  • Supportive
  • Fostered Critical/Innovative Thinking
Many of these characteristics were detailed in the comments of the post mentioned above. What I found most interesting (since it was a technology course) was what happened next. I then asked them to think about their two teachers again and raise their hand if either of them used technology in their teaching. On average one to two hands (out of typically 20 students per class) would be raised. This translates to me that many of our young future teachers do not equate technology use being part of "good teaching".

I found this theme to continue as I worked with these college students over the course of each semester as I met resistance to the idea of using technology to reach all learners. These students see technology as a social tool (Facebook, IM, texting, YouTube, etc.) - not a learning tool. Over the course of the semester they tend to slowly change their thoughts about this concept. I have found that most teachers use the modeling they received as students to mold the style of teacher they will become. Will these younger teachers carry us forward in the advancement of 21st Century Skills?

Image Attribution:
Image: 'write like the wind'