In the previous two parts of this series, I discussed how technology gives students a voice and helps them get along. Today, I thought of another reason…

I read a blog post yesterday by a blogger I really admire. But he wrote about something that I didn’t completely agree with. So I left a comment in which I explained my own beliefs and respectfully expressed my disagreement. And then he responded. And I responded to that. And he responded to me again. It was, if I can use my favorite and most over-used adjective, awesome.

This blogger, Greg Pincus, whose blog regularly provides me with insightful, inspiring, and helpful reading, lives about 3,000 miles away from me and we’ve never met. But in the course of a few hours we had a really exciting and satisfying “conversation” about teaching reading. The ability to have discussions like this and to learn about others’ viewpoints is one of the many reasons I teach with technology.

I want my students to understand that there isn’t one right answer to almost every (non-math) problem. Technology, particularly the millions of blogs out there but also including other social media and networks, makes it possible to examine the viewpoints of others. More than that, though, technology offers the opportunity to understand and respect the viewpoints of others. And more than that, technology offers the opportunity to have a discussion about important topics. And that, my friends, truly is awesome.

How else could people from completely different backgrounds, points of view, and locations have meaningful discussions about their opinions? Technology allows me to teach my students (among others) these incredibly important ideas:

  1. There are others out there with opinions that differ from yours
  2. Just because someone disagrees with your opinions and beliefs doesn’t make them wrong
  3. Conversation about our differences can lead to mutual respect and understanding
We could set up conversations about our differences in the classroom among ourselves. But it’s so much more meaningful and powerful to allow these discussions to happen via technology, which knows no geographic and philosophical boundaries. I want my students to become, above all, THINKERS. And the conversations that technology makes possible allows for this to happen in all kinds of new ways.

 

There are countless examples recently of how this is occurring. Controversial blog posts about the value of educational technology, what teachers really want parents to know, and others demonstrate the value of discourse. These two posts alone have generated perhaps thousands of comments and responses via blog, twitter, and facebook.

We get some thought provoking comments, too. In fact, just yesterday someone commented on our “Lessons Learned” post and it made me think of lots of things I wanted to say.

So why not get your students in on the conversation? If not on these topics, then on others. No matter their age and no matter if you’re a 1:1 school or only have one computer in your classroom, it’s totally possible.

The power of communication. One of the many reasons I teach with technology.

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