Lance Scranton: Technology’s furious pace
September 8, 2015
School has gotten off to a furious start this year and technology is in no small part responsible for the rapid expectations students have with respect to their work and the feedback that informs their learning. Gone are the days of students waiting for a couple of weeks for a major assignment to be thoughtfully graded by their teacher. These days students ask me the next day, or sometimes the same day if their work has been considered for a grade.
Wow! I'm only human, I explain to the best of my ability but they have little tolerance for the snail-pace of my grading and it seems they want to collect as many little numbers in their class gradebook as they can and my measly efforts do not help them collect the necessary data they need to make sense of their grade. It's all designed with the best intentions as parents, teachers and administrators are all kept informed about just how EXACTLY a student is progressing through each and every class.
But something begins to happen when the default expectation for feedback is immediate and information is so easily accessible. Information truly does become so expected but so overwhelming that it has to be relegated or it is quite possible that our minds might explode. New standards in education focus on the teacher as a guide and facilitator because information, so readily available, consumes just about every practice and every class.
Reflection and deep-thinking find themselves at the mercy of the furious pace of incoming information. But a sigh of relief may be in sight as Advanced Placement students are re-discovering the usefulness of actually taking handwritten notes in class and formulating reflective answers using critical techniques and sound, logical, supported reasoning.
Students will be expected to consider the information they gather and unlike mere quantity of information, the depth of thought required to consider answers is what students are being trained to master. It is a refreshing change of pace to be able to assist young minds to really consider what they are reading, to take the time to reflect on the potential meaning of the material covered and to give permission to dive deeply into the curriculum and slow down the pace of gathering information to help students make deeply important decisions.
The furious pace of technology should be held up against the quality of time it takes for student, and adults alike, to reflect and formulate thoughtful answers to enduring questions. We can collect information at a pace never imagined but it does little good if students can't process it in a way that makes learning what it was truly meant to be in a civilized society.
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Perhaps we've have learned something along the way! Now maybe I can convince students that I need time to reflect on the work they produce. Maybe? But I doubt it!