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Creative Career Path

The Art and the Technology of Teaching2011.03.29

    There was a time when a student passing a note in class or whispering to a neighbor was cause for round ridicule or swift punishment by the teacher. Rulers were not just used for measurement. Not every teacher commanded authority or respect, but school was often a cat and mouse game, a battle to see who could get the most attention.


    Over the years it has been a losing battle for teachers, who find themselves defenseless in the face of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), learning disabilities, and discontent. Respect always had to be earned, but it is harder and harder to come by. New technology has increased the means for distractibility, from video games to smart phones, so that there is now a new kid on the block, FAD (Facebook Addiction Disorder). Compounded by low pay and lack of social respect, the battle has caused many teachers to leave the profession.


    But there is a bright side, one that might engage students with 21st century technology, while at the same time helping them to gain an education that they might otherwise miss.


    Matt Richtel wrote an insightful article for the New York Times, called Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction ( A companion video was produced, Fast Times at Woodside High (, documenting the report by Eric Olsen and Matt Richtel on their 4-month study of the impact of social media and technology on the lives of students at Woodside High School in Silicon Valley. They describe a world of ubiquitous technology, our world, in which students send hundreds of text messages a day, prefer getting quick subject summaries on YouTube to reading books, and spend hours a day on video games. It is a world in which the next generation are being wired for instant gratification in a constant state of distraction, a world in which information is sought in clicks and sound bytes.


    But the article is upbeat, because it focuses on what some teachers are doing to meet students on their own ground, which they call the students’ technological territory. Teachers are embracing technology, and making efforts to help students bridge the virtual and real worlds in which they live. Rather than confiscating cell phones and making enemies of the students, the principal David Reilly, a former musician, has secured funds for a multimedia center, and encourages the use of digital devices, software, and social media.


    A growing number of educators are saying that social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter definitely have a place in the classroom, as well as in corporate training. A site dedicated to providing information and resources on this is, which will open your eyes to hundreds of ways in which teachers and trainers are actively embracing the latest social networking technology in their teaching and presentations.


    This is good news for students and educators, who have discovered that collaboration is better than confrontation. Even so, embracing technology alone will not solve the age old problem of how to engage students deeply in the process of learning.


    You can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of teachers who deeply influenced the direction of your life and learning. Master teachers are engaging with or without technology. Chances are that your favorite subjects in school had more to do with the teacher than the subject. Now that eLearning has come of age, you can learn and teach almost anything via the Internet by video and a host of social networking tools. However, the teacher no longer has control over the student’s attention span or physical presence. Teachers and trainers today need to master both the art and the technology of teaching.


    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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