Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Technology Engages Kids...It really does.

Technology engages kids.  I think I figured this out a long time ago when I was teaching 6th grade in Papillion-La Vista.  I still a fairly new teacher and the internet was growing and growing.  I think it was 1995 or 1996.  I only had one computer in my room (as I recall)...and we signed up for a program called MayaQuest.

MayaQuest was pretty much the brain-child of Dan Buettner.  What Dan and his group did...was to ride bikes through several places like the Yucatan Peninsula.  They were trying to gain insight about the collapse of the Mayans.  What made this great for myself, the young 6th grade teacher...was that these riders had a satellite dish and computers.  They took pictures, answered questions from classes like mine and received input from thousands of schools.

What I'm getting at is this...this project engaged my students.  We answered questions posed by the trekers. We looked at maps at where they were bicycling.  We looked at where questions were coming from as they came across the computer...from around the globe.  It was fascinating...engaging.  It would have been very difficult for me to try and get that kind of engagement if we would have been satisfied reading the chapter out of the book on the Mayans.  Lucky for me, we didn't.

Now that it's coming closer to the 20 year anniversary of the MayaQuest expedition, I can't help but think about how technology has changed.  It's changed quite a bit.

But one thing hasn't changed, in my opinion.  Students will most likely be more engaged when technology is used to enhance their learning.  It's that simple.

Engage them.

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