First off, I would like to just point out that this article did not leave me wanting to pull my hair out through use of jargon that I do not understand. Nelson’s conversational tone made the whole piece much easier to read and comprehend. I didn’t feel as lost reading it as I did the other pieces. In fact, I actually liked it.
I really liked his points about why media matters, and why we should work to create it. “It matters because we live in media, as fish live in water” (Nelson 306). Nelson, unlike the Orwellian predictions of the past, believed that computers would make man better, and they are necessary to our lives. Nelson then goes on to say that we should work to adapt the water we swim in. It is, after all, our own.
Technology, to Nelson, is an expression of man. He states that “technology is an expression of man’s dreams. If man did not indulge his fantasies, his thoughts alone would inhibit the development of technology itself.” (307) This quote struck me the most, especially when you relate it to the part of the article about CAI.
Education as it was and still is (let’s face it, not much has really changed in the way of institutionalized boredom) instills in many students a hatred for school and learning. We are not really being taught; we are being forced to memorize for the sake of test scores. We are not adequately prepared for our future. Nelson mentions that the integration of Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) would only make these “evils” of education worse.
Instead of a teacher being a wall to the student, the computer is now the wall.
In terms of my own education, I have found this to be immensely true. I most often looked forward to the times when I was allowed to teach myself. In one of my earlier grades, we had a computer program that we had to use to help us with letters and understanding. I didn’t like it. Or, rather, I didn’t like being able to not use it on my own terms in the class.
We were forced, at intervals of fifteen minutes (at least, I think that was it), to do activities to “stimulate learning” once we finished our regular work. I had programs like this one at home and loved them; I was allowed to use them on my own time and learn things at my own pace. At school, however, I hated it because I was rushed or not allowed to do the parts that I enjoyed, or to avoid the parts that I already had mastered and move on to things I struggled with. We all maintained the same pace.
It was at this point in my educational career that I began to hate math.
As a solution to this, Nelson suggests that teachers use responding resources and hyper-media. What I find interesting about both of these ideas and concepts is that, in my high school career (far more pleasant than the year I was forced onto the computer), my teachers integrated a lot of these programs in class.
In biology, for example, we were allowed to actually dissect an animal or we could do it digitally. We also had several days where we used different programs like scavenger hunts to further what we were learning. If we had trouble, we were allowed to go back and re-do what we struggled with at our leisure. I remember actually learning from the way that she used different forms of media.
What I also find interesting was Nelson’s ideas of the new forms of media that would help students learn that are being used and expounded upon in 2013. In my high school, we used programs like the dissection one he mentions, The “hyper-map” is a reality that many of us use for fun now: Google Maps, anyone?
Many of the new forms of media that he describes are also probably available as apps in the iTunes store, such as the one where you tap a part of something and a bigger description comes out.
Today, many teachers use the iPad in their classrooms, something that didn’t even exist until after I graduated high school. According to Apple, there are over 40,000 apps that alone pertain to education. Educators now are using Nelson’s ideas about hyper-media to teach in their own classrooms.
iPads allow teachers to personalize learning to each student’s level and put materials on them that would help the student at their own pace.
As someone who was going to go into the field of education (and still might in the future), knowing about all of these things is especially helpful. The Apple website, for example, has stories about teachers who use the iPad in their classroom.
All of the possibilities that technology provides us now for learning still amazes me. I only wish that we could use more of them in college.
To read some of the personal stories, you can scroll through Apple’s “Teaching with iPad” page here: http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/teaching-with-ipad/