Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interactive Learning Tools Offer Opportunity for Rich Dialogue with Children

As one of our preschool teachers compiles portfolios of her students’ work on tiny flash drives, our 9-12 students research forms of government online, our teachers respond to emails from parents, and I type this blog, it’s clear that technology has become interwoven in our daily routine at Wilmington Montessori School. The world is “going digital” – or, arguably, has already “gone” – and while our staff and parents may remember a time when this wasn’t the case, our children will not.

It’s strange to think that objects we grew up with – the calculator, rotary phone and floppy disk, to name a few – are on their way to becoming artifacts like the abacus and quill pen. What other objects will become obsolete in our lifetimes and in the lifetimes of our children?

A German digital creative agency has utilized the new interactive capabilities of YouTube to share their answers to some of these questions in their Museum of Obsolete Objects.

The well-designed online museum allows viewers to take a nostalgic trip back in time. Yes, some of the creators’ conclusions are debatable – The fax machine became obsolete in 1999? The radio transmitter in 2004? – but that’s part of what makes this quirky site so intriguing. The Museum of Obsolete Objects serves as an amazing conversation starter, particularly between members of different generations. A discussion with your children or students could include the following:
  • Which of the objects does your child remember? How about you?
  • Do you agree that these objects are indeed obsolete?
  • Which new innovations made each of these objects obsolete?
  • What do you notice about the pace at which objects are becoming obsolete?
  • Discuss some current objects and when you believe they might become obsolete or what type of technology could eventually replace them.
  • If you have any of these obsolete objects available, allow children to interact with them and compare them with their newer replacements.
Interactive learning tools like this one provide an opportunity for rich dialogue between people of all ages. Want to check out some other virtual museums? Here’s a list of a few, courtesy of Teacher Tap (a free professional development resource that helps educators address common questions about the use of technology in teaching and learning). For a different outlook on the obsolete, here’s a list of obsolete skills.

What websites do you enjoy sharing and discussing with your children? Please share them in the comments!

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