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If you haven’t already guessed, this week’s reading and assignment involved a bit of cryptography. Can you figure out the message? (It might be too short, but I maintained word length. Hint: Look at letter frequencies, though you probably already knew that.)

Today’s world offers many tools for us to use when solving problems. Such tools are widely available, and it would be a shame not to use, or learn how to use, the technology that is ever present in the world we live in. What are we so afraid of? Well, it isn’t a perfect world. Kids abuse the system. They use technology for evil things like looking up answers in Google. In a world where information is available at the click of a button or a swipe of the screen, many students have little patience for figuring things out on their own if it takes more than five minutes.

Though, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use technology as a resource. We need to expose students to technology that will be useful to helping them solve problems and see the connections. It might allow for interesting activities. Kids get bored easily. Keeping their attention and coming up with an engaging activity requires more than a few manipulatives. (Especially when it comes to middle school and high school students.)

Teaching students to use computers and programs to assist them would be a great asset to the student’s education. They might even find class more enjoyable when they are given something they believe they will use in the future.

The only real issue seems to be the access to technology. Some schools and students simply do not have the means to provide such materials. If that is the case, then trying to do certain activities may be unfair to students who do not have the means of obtaining certain materials. I still believe technology should be utilized when given the opportunity. When analyzing a paragraph and gaining data to crack a message, you don’t want to spend hours gathering the information by hand. (It’s definitely possible, but I know first-hand how tedious it can be. I tried decoding the message given in class by hand because I didn’t have my computer with me.) For class, we discussed that some kind of clue or prior knowledge helps you get started, and that is the general idea with most problems: existing knowledge gives you the direction. Now, use those tolls to get you to the next step.

Technology is capable of helping students, and they might even be able to show us things they have learned. These are times when the teacher may become the student. Technology will free the student to think about problems in a different way. However, we need to show them how to properly use it. If you need to go next door to ask for a cup of sugar, you wouldn’t take your car. (Unless, of course, your closest neighbor happens to be 8 miles away, and walking there would be impossible. Let’s pretend your neighbor is less than 100 feet away.) Now, if you are forced to go to the market (which happens to be 15 miles away), you might want to use your car for efficiency. A computer it the same thing. It is a means to get you from one place to another. Your knowledge gives you the direction and the computer offers you a way to get there efficiently.

We need to allow the real world to collide with school. Too often, schools are trying to keep technology out. Students find school irrelevant because of the tools they have at their disposal. They don’t understand why memorization of facts is necessary when they can just look it up. Students may have a point, and they should be allowed to argue their case.

What do you think about technology and engaging students through use of technology? Let me know what you think, until next time!

 

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