Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Using Tech to Foster Student Inquiry


Pop Quiz: How many times has any given student, upon admitting defeat, exclaimed, "Just give me the answer!!"?

The answer is...well, all of them.

I see 2 problems with this kind of response. First, this given student has probably not been taught true self-inquiry and/or self-advocacy. Perhaps he or she has no grit or determination to see things through. 

Secondly, the questions themselves may not lean towards a spirit of inquiry. Too often the child is asked to find the single "correct" answer in the abnormally sized haystack. And the teachers take great joy in devising questions that are so "rigorous" (read: tricky) that only one person in the world knows the answer to it. How fair is that?

I understand that students will be students and laziness does exist. But what good does it do to send anyone on a wild goose chase for answers to close-ended questions?

Enter the edtechmaniacs' solution.

#1) Ask them an inquiry based question. In PBL it's called the driving question. A good DQ will open the door to their own answers. (See video)

#2) Teach them how to use technology to seek answers. Have them find a professional or expert on Twitter or Facebook. Scour Wikipedia (yes, I said it) for sources to scour even more. Use Skype to conduct a live chat with someone in Europe. Get everyone involved with Skype Classroom. Students and teachers from all over are itching to get together via Skype's new education program.

Please take some time to visit or acquaint yourself with these websites and programs. Teaching responsible use and turning students loose, will go a long way towards the students finding their own answers.

No Needle. No Haystack.  No upset students.

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