Esther Wojcicki ‘s’Moonshots’
Moonshots” in the tech world refer to bold ideas such as self-driving cars or colonising space.
In “Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom”, teachers and Silicon Valley insiders Esther Wojcicki and Lance Izumi bring this philosophy to schools, outlining a strategy for using technology to unleash creativity.
Combining case studies with recommendations for education technology tools, they argue that giving students independence and freedom makes them more likely to succeed in the world.
Wojcicki, who has been a high school English teacher for 31 years and is co-founder of the Teacher Academy and Apps for Education at Google Inc, spoke to Reuters about the role of technology in the classroom and why students prefer textbooks to iPads.
Q: How did you develop your philosophy of education?
A: It was 1987 and I’d just gotten a grant to install Apple computers in my classroom. At that time there was no IT department and no one even knew how to turn the machines on. But the students got excited about it and took charge of installing everything. They learned a lot when I just let go.
Q: How do technology and learning go hand-in-hand?
A: The philosopher John Dewey said “You learn by doing.” With the Internet you can create information, websites, blogs, in ways you couldn’t before, and in doing so you learn.
Q: How do you ensure students’ privacy when their personal information is online?
A: I follow my students on Facebook and say, “That’s not something you should be posting.” In class, they only post issues that are pertinent to the community or to the world. I don’t encourage them to post personal stuff.
Q: Are you noticing a backlash to the spread of technology in the classroom?
A: I have a cart of 30 iPads for the students, and no one wants to use them. I’ve tried to cut the paper production of the (student newspaper), but the students want a physical product, something to show people. They even published an editorial asking for more textbooks. There seems to be a distinct difference between paper and digital.
Q: How can parents best use technology to help their kids succeed?
A: One of the biggest battles in parenting is controlling the access to the web. (Parents) should find apps that are age appropriate and regulate them, but leave some agency for the students. Kids should not be online for five hours at a stretch. ReutersEsther Wojcicki, Lance Izumi, Moonshots