Student-centered learning using technology…circa 1970

We are snowed in here, unable to go anywhere, so I am reading my students blogs and watching their explorations in the Spanish language. My husband is wandering around the internet. He was googling his old high school and found this little gem…the 1970 Holy Family High School Xerox Club.

This is what student centered learning with technology looked like back then (and no, that is not my husband…I daresay he was already in college by the time this pic was snapped). Back then, students explored technology in schools, but only for the purpose of making sure it made it possible for the teachers to teach. Teaching was sacred (ha! pun!). Students were to be taught by teachers, and not the other way around.

Nowadays, as we consider flattening the hierarchies that have traditionally existed in the classroom, and as we aspire to letting go of the reins and letting our students make discoveries about the subjects we teach through their own use of technology (vs what we discover first, post to the CMS, and then make them re-discover…mouseclick by mouseclick…), we need to ask ourselves: are we ready to value them as equal partners in this wide open enterprise called learning…or are we secretly hoping they will just make the damn machines work like our 70s predecessors?

Holy Family High School Xerox Club

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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  1. Leslie M-B · March 8, 2008 Reply

    Wow, those are some serious Xerox action shots. Certainly the high school photographer won an award for them. . .

  2. itsalljustaride · March 9, 2008 Reply

    “are we ready to value them as equal partners in this wide open enterprise called learning, or are we secretly hoping they will just make the damn machines work like our 70s predecessors?”

    I don’t know about your institution, but my experiences are that it is mixed. I have some students who have showed me new ways to do things in the lab and with projects, others who are very comfortable with minimal coaching, and some who mysteriously can’t seem to handle simple file management (and these are freshmen who, we are told, grew up as digital natives).

    Usually it’s a tradeoff between giving students simple constraints to work in, training them in the basics, and letting them take it further if they have the ability.

  3. Barbara · March 9, 2008 Reply

    Well, the whole digital native/digital immigrant dichotomy, I believe, is a lot of bunk. Neither our students or our teachers fall into such neat little bunches. Students, just like adults, use technology in as much as it helps them get stuff done…sometimes efficiently, sometimes less than so. And I could also identify about 5 or 6 adults with whom I work who can’t do file mgmt either…

    What I am talking about is teaching our students the basics with certain tools, but leaving it possible for further growth/experimentation to happen if need be, and then seeing where it takes them.

    The WPMu blogs that we set up for our students allows those who want the barebones to be happy, and those who want to be creative to do so as well.

    Heck, my students started using Youtube to upload and embed video into their blogs long before I did. Same with online slideshows and the rest.

    teach them to fish….

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