Reply to Dave's Comment from my last post.

Original Comment from Dave:
I teach coding as an introduction to web pages, and here is why. First, our students understand web pages and web page features, so they can more easily make the transition to content creation. Second, HTML and browsers allow for immediate feedback for students. They can quickly see whether their code worked or whether debugging is necessary. Thirdly, and most important, coding teaches important problem solving skills -- skills which are useful in just about every academic discipline. If the syntax is off by just one character, the page may not work properly. Having the persistence and work ethic to correct an obscure error is an important discipline to develop, especially since creative problem solving skills are also a tenet of the 21st Century Skills report you cite. Therefore, in the end it isn't about the HTML, but the larger skills that HTML can help teach.

Thanks for the comment Dave! I can really begin to see the accessibility the use of creating webpages as an introduction to the web. When you put it in the context of 21st Century Skills, it makes more sense.

My only concern is that...and I don't know enough about web programming that students will learn to "code" in a language that may not be useable in the next ten years. We could use ALICE or Lego MindStorm to help teach critical thinking and problem solving, and those may be just as engaging, if not more, than producing a webpage.

I guess the real question is, can you use ALICE or MindStorms and connect them to the general curriculum as easily as HTML? Maybe??

Is HTML the most "effective" way to teach problem solving or critical thinking? If those are indeed our desired outcome?

Something else to throw in and may not be part of this initial conversation: How long will we be teaching students "intro to the web" type electives? I'm still amazed at how my students are still teaching me :-) Yesterday I brought up the acronym...and mind you, just the acronym...MMORPG and I was almost mobbed by three 6th graders. I got an earful until the bell rang about WoW(by the way, did you know you can get a new rewards VISA from Worlds of Warcraft :-) , and new one called Defcon.

There is also something in your comment that got me to thinking...and only because it's a problem in my own life. Are there things we can be doing to help kids foster "delayed gratification?" Maybe that's a topic for a whole new entry?

NOW....With that being said, I'm still going to teach the "Intro to HTML" elective, but I think these types of conversations are the ones we need to be having.

Thanks for the reply Dave.

You can check out Dave's blog at

A New Outlook!

Had an eye opening email that hopefully will prompt more indepth discussion.

I've been trying to decide on some electives to teach for next year at my new school here in MO. The asst. principal gave me the freedome to choose elective topics, but kept hinting that there should be a webpage programming class. I've tried to stay away from that topic, because frankly I've never taught an HTML class before. Then I got to thinking, why do we want kids to learn HTML anyway? Most of the web content that middle school kids are used to dealing with on a daily bases is dynamic in nature and utilizes programing languages like PHP, JavaScript, Flash, XML, etc. To be honest, I know how to use these, but have no clue how to program with them. After updating their profile in Bebo, watching videos on YouTube, and playing the latest MMORPG, creating a static webpage would be pretty boring.

So the big question is, should we be teaching students to code pages or should we be guiding them to create effective online content?

Chances are students, or adults for that matter, will spend more time online producing content than they will be formatting that content.

This may be the fundamental challenge that needs to be met head-on. What skills do students needed to be equipped with to maintain a steady view in such a rapidly changing technological environment?

  1. Collaboration--Can students interact with one another to complete tasks? Can they compromise or even disagree in a God pleasing way? Can they work with someone they don't know? See?

  2. Information Literacy--This is different from technology literacy. Technology gets you TO the information, but is that information accurate? Reliable? Is the source of the information credible? Can students understand the graphs, charts, or any other ways information or data is presented to them?

To see more specifics about of 21st Century Learning Skills Check out the Partnership for 21st Century Skills

This is a change for me as a technology coordinator or teacher, because it no longer is about the technology, but about teaching pedagogy! It's not about the tool as much as it is about what teachers are doing with it.

Yikes! Where not asking teachers to add new pieces to their all ready full tool boxes, but we are telling them they need to change the way they teach!

What do you think about that?

Sweet Perspective!

I really needed to post this video that was forwarded to me this morning. It puts everything into persepctive!!! After being a tech coordinators for 9 years, this is more true than anyone would care to admit!

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Not On Our Watch

As I was driving to school this morning, I happened upon the NPR radio show, Morning Edition. The interview was with actor Don Cheadle star of the movie Hotel Rwanda and co-author of a new book, "Not On Our Watch" (Authored by John Prendergast). The book chronicles their journey into the war-torn Darfur region of the Sudan.

What struck me about the interview wasn't the political call to action that was intended...although I am humanly concerned about what's happening in Sudan. But rather the quote from the movie Hotel Rwanda that was used in the intro to program which can be seen/heard below.

What struck me most about this scene was how people consume media without ever acting. Regardless of your political views or whether or not you think it's our governments job to help the people of Darfur, as Christians, we are called to help and provide for those people. This comment is as much directed toward myself as to anyone else!

As Lutheran, Christian school teachers we have a duty to teach our students that they need to step beyond the media (and the technology that delivers it) to help the hurting people on the other side of the computer/TV/Radio.

At the very least, technology gives students the opportunity to have a dialogue or a conversation with the world in which they live and have that conversation in such a way that spurs them to action. God the Holy Spirit uses means by which to accomplish its work, may new technology tools inspire students, to reach out and be the Good Samaritan to people in need...even if they are thousands of miles away!

How do they reach out? The question isn't how, but what is the best way!

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