The far and distant future

I hate the fact that schools still use the drill and kill method to teach subjects. I guess looking back on it it’s kinda difficult to teach the material using another method. The fact that standards still need to be met every year, usually assessed through multiple choice achievement tests, it is not surprising that the drill and kill method is still being used. While the drill and kill has been shown to be far less effective than other methods it still remains the easiest way to present students with material thus fulfilling the absolute minimum job requirement of a teacher.

I guess the reason that I’m being so critical is because I’ve seen programs that have taken similar challenges and have developed engaging ways to present the material. I remember using one of these programs to explore the world around me. The program, wikiworld, used gps positioning and social networking to share a community’s knowledge. With wikiworld I could ask questions about anything in the world around me. All I had to do was stand in the area where the question occurred to me and I could post my question for others to answer. I could later review my question and see what others had suggested as possible answers. For an inquisitive, but shy, person like me this application was perfect. I could ask questions without worrying that people would think I was uneducated.

I could also answer questions that I found scattered about. This was quite possibly the most fun I had with the app. As a kid I had a deep interest in zoology and visited nature reserve by my house as often as I could. One day I used the wikiworld app at the nature reserve and I found that many people had left questions about animals they had seen in the reserve. Naturally I took to answering these questions as best I could, and many times my answer was selected as the best. When I found a question that I didn’t know the answer to I would quickly scan any posts that were left as possible solutions and then searched for the answer on wikipedia, at the library, and within my own books for the answers. I remember how addicting it was to search for posts left by others. In many ways I feel wikiworld worked as a catalyst to expend my knowledge.

It is amazing to think that this effective means of teaching was executed on such meager technology as an Ipod touch. The wifi connection was atrocious, and memory capabilities were quite limited. Still even with this technology that is now capable of running on our paper I learned so much. It’s a shame that these holograms, realtime streaming, and tactile feedback which are now commonplace in our schools and homes are used simply used to drill and kill information. It’s a shame that even though our technology has changed so much, our thoughts on education have changed so little.

-Ender Connor