Many of you have seen, read or heard of Marc Saltzman. Since 1996 Marc has reported on the high-tech industry as a freelance journalist, author, lecturer, consultant, and radio and TV personality. His specialties lie in consumer electronics, computers, Internet trends, video games and DVD/Blu-ray reviews. Besides being an award-winning blogger Marc has also written more than a dozen books on gaming and the internet.
This year, Marc was chosen to be on Best Buy Canada's 2010 Best In Class Technology Fund advisory board.
The Fund is looking to award $200,000 in technology grants to teachers and students who are passionate about technology in the classroom.
Recently, I met Marc at a smartphone launch where we agreed to chat about this program.
Marc, you are on the Best in Class Fund 2010 Technology Advisory Board. Why was it important for you to join this endeavor?
Anything that involves education is a priority for me. Having three kids I can see the growing importance of technology in the classroom.
I am also doing some consulting work for the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF) I’m finding that often they don’t’ have the tools they need to embrace technology as as an educational tool.
I’ll be a keynote speaker at the OSSTF conference at the end of October in Toronto addressing educators on how and why technology can be an aid for both teachers and educators so when I was approached by Best Buy to windle down a number of videos to a final number of 10 I jumped at the opportunity because it marries my two passions of technology and education.
Why is it important for schools to participate in this competition?
I’m hearing from educators that there are some challenges at getting the best tools that could aid in the classroom. So by submitting a clear and enthusiastic video, its great that these teachers will have the opportunity to win these technologies.
While technology can be very useful in educating youth its also, increasingly apparent they are going to need to use these tools in real life. And the sooner kids, junior and high school children can get familiarized with technology, because they will need it in all fields in their lives, the sooner they will become equipped with the skills needed to use them and the better they’ll be able to deal with them in life.
What are your thoughts on the role of new technology in the classroom?
We’ve seen the emergence of computer classes and other technologies such as smart boards used in the classroom. These can be effective aids, not just at home, as they’re not always available at home. They are important tools for teachers to communicate with kids. Students can communicate with teachers and apply the information immediately.
Technology needs to be implemented in the classroom, because regardless of whether not its there, the real world will continue to evolve around it: i.e. You put on a video, whether or not the child understands, the video keeps playing. Same
Technology will continue to evolve whether or not students understand it. We need to help them access information through new tools. Technology can help them express their ideas, collaborate with classmates. Technology is important for everything from research, to expression to collaboration.
Technology is important in the classroom to mirror what is happening in society and to give them the tools to help with every facet of learning, learning about cultures and interpreting languages is a lot more reasonable from tablets and programs than textbooks.
Things like touch screens or voice activated tablets are countering more conventional techs, ie PC’s and a mouse. They are intuitive technologies, that need to be taken advantage of because they are very natural interfaces and make learning natural.
Do you think tools like smartphones can have a place in the learning experience?
I don’t know if smart phones can help students in the classroom. Just as technology can be used, it can also be abused. Smart phones can be distracting with text messages and games. I don’t know if smart phones are the right answer for inside the classroom. Unless it’s a special project and teachers ask kids to pull them out. However that doesn’t seem likely given different products and service providers.
There are thousands of apps available to help with homework though.Regardless of age or subject matter there are apps that allow students to use their phones as a homework resource. Smart phones can play a role outside of the classroom more so than inside.
Maybe in the near future kids can interact with a digital chalkboard at the front of the classroom through their smart phones. IE, pull up maps on their phone and display it at the front of the class or answer a question on the board through their phones.
However, smart phones can be useful for organizing schedules, communicating with classmates and other positives.
How will technology shape the type of education a student receives in order to prepare them for future opportunities?
These are the same tools that students will need to use in their working life so the more comfortable they are using their tools early on, the better they will be ready for post academic life. These are the same tools we use in business, smart phones, tablets, computers, wireless tech, the earlier they can use these techs as an aid the better prepared they will be when seeking employment. By learning the skills early, they will be comfortable with systems and programs, because you’ve created excel spreadsheets, power point presentations and outlook projectors, that could be a clincher for a job candidate who has this set of tools from the classroom. So the more comfortable they are with technology, the more skills they can pick up, the better equipped they’ll be when looking for a job.
Also another key advantage of technologies is that they’re mostly interactive. Concepts can’t go over a student’s head if they are required to punch in right answers to a program before moving forward.
Online learning for subjects such as geography is made easier with visible maps and visual learning. Rich media offers audio, video and interactive photos, a lot of stuff that paper doesn’t offer.