My Proven Computer Lab Activities
Lab Activities You Can Set Up Yourself
5-7 year olds
Activities That Develop Small Motor Computer Skills:
Drag and Drop
Namer with Positive Adjectives
Crazy Alphabets with Imagery
7-10 year olds
10-12 year olds
12-14 year olds
Some Basic Guidelines
Keeping the WIDER AUDIENCE in mind
When I say Wider Audience to my students, it has a very specific intent. I want them to consider how their product is going to be seen by members of that Wider Audience. That audience represents anybody who sees their work outside the classroom, and it's a concept they readily embrace even though they often don't grasp just how wide that audience can be when their products go online.
When I say Wider Audience to teachers and administrators, I usually have two layers of meaning in mind. One is similar to the student view, of how people on the Internet will respond to their students' work, but the other applies even more specific to teaching: how other teachers will respond to the teacher's impact on those students pedagogically. When a teacher encourages comments on his or her website offerings, for example, that teacher is opening up a dialogue, or even a dialectic debate, with others who view that site. This can be highly beneficial to a teacher's development, as it is to a student's.
Of course, it's also a daring move for us, fraught with peril. Nevertheless, it's no more than we ask of our students.
Tech vs. Tool
Is there a difference between tools and technologies? Some of us use the words as synonyms, and certainly they can be, but they are not precisely synonymous.
I always explain to my students that a tool's purpose is to do one of two things:
Frankly, it doesn't matter. Either way, it's a tool. But is it a technology? Tools help us accomplish tasks in very specific ways, typically because they've become so refined in their intent. Merriam-Webster defines technology this way:
1 a : the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area : engineering 2 <medical technology>
b : a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <a car's fuel-saving technology>
2 : a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
<new technologies for information storage>
3 : the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor <educational technology>
To me, technology is used most often to describe things in a much broader way than tool does. It's more of a meta-level description of tools. Technology implies the lore as much as the artifact. For example, a shoe has a simple purpose - to protect our feet , particularly on the soles which step onto or into things that can cause damage to our feet. But shoe technology takes the lowly shoe and turns into an engineered marvel that not only does its basic function but actually enhances our ability to stand, move, run and jump. Our shoes can cushion impact, alleviate structural defects, help us walk on challenging surfaces, or be built with a variety of materials and surfaces to improve our efficiencies when we work and play. These additional enhancements to the shoe are products of technologies focused on improving the shoe, but the shoe is still the basic protective tool that a shoe always is. It's just that it can now be found in so many versions that are each focused on at least one of so many different potential activities.
So, let's see what Merriam-Webster says about the "lowly" tool:
1 a : a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task
b (1) : the cutting or shaping part in a machine or machine tool
(2) : a machine for shaping metal : machine tool
2 a : something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession <a scholar's books are his tools>
b : an element of a computer program (as a graphics application) that activates and controls a particular function <a drawing tool>
c : a means to an end <a book's cover can be a marketing tool>
d often vulgar :
3 : one that is used or manipulated by another
Not much help here, is it? The first definition is very specific - a handheld device. I guess that lets out shoe as a tool there. The second definition is only slightly more useful, but only if you go past its apparent limitation - something (instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation. So if we think of operation in its broadest sense, and not as a medical procedure, but more as the "accomplishing a task" bit from the first definition, then this could work for shoe as a tool. As I said earlier, tool seems to be a far more specific meaning than technology.
Oh, well. I'm not likely to solve this problem anytime soon. One of the simplest definitions I've heard of technology goes something like this:
It's technology if it came along after you were born; otherwise, it's just part of the environment..
Your thoughts are welcome.