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THE PIPELINE: Playing to Learn! Meet and Greet the New Interactive Technologies

By Stephen Abram - Posted Sep 1, 2005
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Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise
'Cause they found new toys

This is a short quote from Alice Cooper's "School's Out." It's a tune that runs through my mind during the summer months. I suppose it's an anthem of sorts. Funny how something musical singes itself into your brain forever. The tune returned as I tried to find a thread for this column. It's sort of ironic. We have continually thought of ways to enrich and enhance the classroom experience.

Then along come new technologies that broaden our reach beyond our wildest imaginations. With Web-based information alone, we have access to content so rich that it sometimes drowns our learners. With the connectivity of the Web, we can embrace interactions with countries and cultures that bring our lessons alive. Let's talk to a grade 6 class in Zimbabwe. Let's play music with an Inuit village in the high Arctic. Let's twin with a school in South America. All of these are possible, and all are happening.

Also, how do we answer homework help questions beyond classroom hours? How can we assist our most needy learners at their point of need—the teachable moment? Indeed, whether the learner is in the Australian Outback or three blocks from the school, for all intents and purposes they are distance learners.

In the past, these adventures in learning could be expensive. They could involve plane tickets and hotels. At one time, foreign travel and high school trips could successfully broaden our learners. We also tried classroom letters that involved only postage costs. We tried conference calls and teleconferences, but long-distance can be expensive too. We tried student exchanges. While all of these were—and are—wonderful learning experiences, most are out of the reach of the majority of students and families. How do we make these broadening experiences part of everyday learning instead of just a major event? And how do we do it without having to sell millions of chocolate-covered almonds?

In recent months, there's been a revolution in interactive technologies—both in their design and in their cost. So let's play with a few technologies that can cost very little, if anything at all.

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This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview, Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.


 
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