Isn't it curious that all of you and and all of your students use the internet daily but none of you exploit its potential for teaching, learning and creativity? Isn't it curious that schools force their students to inhabit this alternative reality for six or seven hours every day where the internet doesn't exist?
Earlier this week I led a seminar for PGCE students at Nottingham University on the use of the internet and its potential for encouraging pupils’ creativity. To start, I asked those present to put their hands up if they used the internet daily. All hands went up. I then asked them to keep their hands up if their pupils used the internet on a daily basis. After a moment’s thought, all hands stayed up.
However, when I asked the PGCE students – who had all finished their first teaching placement – to keep their hands up if they planned or been encouraged to plan lessons, sequences of lessons or homework that required the use of the internet, all hands went down. Isn’t it curious, I asked them, that all of you and and all of your students use the internet daily but none of you exploit its potential for teaching, learning and creativity? Isn’t it curious that schools force their students to inhabit this alternative reality for six or seven hours every day where the internet doesn’t exist?
The Internet is a wonderful student resource for researching school reports, communicating with teachers, staying in touch with friends, and entertaining themselves. They can literally hit a few keystrokes and find out about culture in China, the history of Europe, or take a tour of the American White House.
But with that access comes risks, even if you’re careful. For example, in our year 3 class project on life cycles, we never allow the students to search “chicks”, rather they must type “baby chickens” to avoid problems.
The digital natives we are educating don’t want to hide from the internet, though. They want to learn to manage it. What we as teachers must do is show them how to avoid the internet’s bad neighbourhoods so they can benefit from the good. Here’s my year-by-year run-down on how to prepare students to thrive in the online world: