Two events last month reinforced my belief that the debate over students creating versus consuming through technology is overblown (see our online discussions at techlearning.com regarding IWBs and iPads). What’s so bad about doing both?
The first occurred during Tech & Learning’s inaugural Tech Forum Boston. Breakfast keynote speaker Mitch Resnick started the day with a stirring presentation on the Media Lab’s transformative Scratch software. If you or your students haven’t played with this yet, go there now. This is the software most “creationists” argue for: 1,723,443 projects and counting programmed by students from around the world. “This is what should be happening in classrooms,” I hear, “not just sages onstage using whiteboards as projectors!” Here’s the rub, though: What good are those games if no one else plays, i.e., consumes them?
The second happened after a long day of intense discussion at the 10th annual Intel Visionary conference in Washington, D.C. Presentations by some of the country’s most innovative school leaders, including Dan Liebert, principal of Tech Valley High School in Rensselaer, New York; Max McGee, president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora; and Diana Laufenberg from Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Each school is doing mind-blowing work. Their presentations also showed students using “consumption” devices to: collaborate with students in China to design aeronautical blueprints; monitor the safety of the water of the Hudson River; make inspiring videos on the importance of voting and democracy.
I say it’s time to move past the consume-versus-create argument and instead focus on what works best for whom. What do you say? Please share your thoughts with us.