In a world where facts are now free, what do we do with students?
For example, the other day I was on a tour of a “high-tech” middle school and I walked into a classroom to see students filling out an online quiz on the rivers of South America. Since the students weren’t allowed to use their technology to find the answers, they had to regurgitate their answers from memory.
So here was a classroom full of students with iPads staring up into space hoping that they could recall from memory some basic geography facts.
Why on earth did these students need to memorize the names of the major rivers of South America?
Facts are free, they could find these answers in seconds using Google.
The teacher was proud that his students were using technology in his classroom but is this really the best we can do?
For students to not just survive, but thrive in this new world, they need more than facts. Anyone can get facts. They need to be thinkers and creators.
But as teachers, most of us teach facts. So what are we to do?
This is why I changed my whole approach to teaching and came up with a badge program that not only motivated my students to learn, but it also forced them to think and to create projects using just their iPads.
I remember after the first iPad project I heard a student talking to his partner saying that he had no idea that his iPad could make animations.
This is why badges are so important; we have students that think that technology is only for entertainment and teachers that think technology is only good for looking up facts. My badges allowed both groups to move beyond these basic rudimentary objectives and do so much more. I don’t want to sound sensational, but the badges allowed students to literally change their world for the better.