This would have totally changed school for me…

The most difficult part of high school and even college for me was group discussions. I remember in English class when we would break into small groups my group was allowed to go work across the hall where there would be less background noise. It made it easier for me to hear but it was still difficult. And it was hard for anyone to understand just how much I missed because I always did fine in a one-on-one situation.

These days kids grow up being on the internet and conversing by typed communication. It’s second nature to them, just like it became second nature to me when I first joined online discussions in 1996. I only knew 2 or 3 people who were online then who lived in the same city as me, not counting the chemistry teacher. :) In college we used email and chat socially and it began to replace the phone for some people.

Right now, Don is grading reviews of wikis done by college students. The equivalent for me would have been to write a review of someone’s oral presentation.

Anyway, this article in the NY Times struck a chord with me.

Instead of being a distraction — an electronic version of note-passing — the chatter echoed and fed into the main discourse, said Mrs. Olson, who monitored the stream and tried to absorb it into the lesson. She and others say social media, once kept outside the school door, can entice students who rarely raise a hand to express themselves via a medium they find as natural as breathing.

“When we have class discussions, I don’t really feel the need to speak up or anything,” said one of her students, Justin Lansink, 17. “When you type something down, it’s a lot easier to say what I feel.”

The students communicate by typing during the class. It’s a text-based class group discussion! Not being in school anymore myself, I’ve only considered this type of thing for work meetings. Of course I was told that no one would want to type instead of talk on and listen to a conference call. I can see that changing with time though as the phone-loving generation is replaced by the email/IM/web crowd.

But I wonder… will the ease of video calls and even newer technology push the text-only communication out again over time?

1 Comment

  1. Anna
    May 13, 2011

    I think it’s awesome! I had a similar experience to yours in high school… I could have used this in school, too!

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