Last week in the library we tackled the question of if the library, in its current state, was still relevant in this lesson, The Library Question: Can it Survive in its Current State? The students read and analyzed three informative texts on the subject. Today, in the library we tackle the question of how Old School technology (reference books) compares to New School technology (iPads.) This lesson coincides perfectly with RI.5.7 as the kids draw on information from print and digital sources as they race to locate the answers to questions using references books against technology of iPads.
The discussion begins with the questions, "Which type of technology is better?" A show of hands gives new technology the edge, by at least twenty-five kids. When the other three are questioned about their less popular point of view, the response I get is, "It's not that old technology is better, but maybe neither type HAS to be better" (It's Old School vs New School). A wise answer, I thought.
The students are eager to take this technology challenge and listen attentively as our school librarian, Julie Young, introduces the concept. She begins by discussing the difference between "old school" and "new school" technology. Their task is to look up definitions, find data quickly, and determine locations using old school (OS) and new school (NS) at the same time. One half of the table uses iPads and the other uses reference books. After a few turns, they switch. In addition, I created a page for them to write the topic asked of them...make a prediction as to which will be faster...record the actual result on The Technology Challenge Worksheet.
I haven't seen such anticipation to begin an activity in a long time. They sit poised- hands on books; fingers ready to touch a link; table recorder with a pencil at the ready. The first challenge: "What is the definition of the word, CAPABLE?" (Close-up Dictionary vs iPad). They quickly start their search and it's evident immediately that the Online dictionary on the iPad is exponentially faster. This is repeated with two more words and the iPad wins at each table, every time (Challenge Two: Definition of Predecessor). The kids who initially sided with "new technology" give looks that say, "Knew it all the time..."
Not so fast. The next challenge is for the kids to look up a list of the Presidents of the United States. For this, they will use the World Almanac (OS) and Google (NS) as sources (Close-up World Almanac vs Google). Although the result of this one is not universal between groups, more World Almanac wielders take the prize than those going through a search engine (Using an almanac beautifully). This is a surprising outcome, and perhaps it leads into the more ambiguous way the next question winds up.
For the next challenge they again use World Almanacs and Google. They need to find the list of Stanley Cup Winners (Which side of the table is faster?). In an even more desperate race to prove the speed of technology,(Typing in the Topic) the kids using iPads come in nearly even with the World Almanac kids. After looking at the data, it's nearly even with just over half winning with iPad.
The final type of challenge is with a World Atlas (OS) and Google Earth (NS) (Close-up World Atlas vs Google Earth app). "Name a major river in Arizona." What they discover is that it's faster to use the actual atlas than try to center in on Google Earth quickly. All they have to do is open the atlas to Arizona and spot a river to complete the challenge (Going through the atlas). With Google Earth, there are a few more steps. First, get to the page- next, touch "Explore Google Earth." They must then wait for it to load and once it does, decide which of the links to click on. By the time they've gotten to a search bar the atlas kids have waited around for at least thirty seconds.
Although I am unable to upload the slide show our librarian, Julie Young, created to this lesson, it is not a difficult lesson to create. All that's needed is topics of interest and a way to display them, Smart Board, white board, slide show as well as the reference books and some kind of technology. I love when she presents her lesson to my current class each year!
Though the Tech Challenge Data Records stand for themselves (Tech Challenge Data Record #1 and Tech Challenge Data Record #2). The discussion following this engaging activity is rich with opinion and the uncovering of information the kids hadn't really considered. Although I can't transcribe the fantastic dialogue, here are the highlights as I remember them.
QUESTION: What limitations did you discover about OS and NS technologies?
ANSWERS: Old School usually slow because people have to do the work; New School there were pop-ups and advertisements in the way;
QUESTION: What are the strengths you noticed about each?
ANSWER: Old School there was no waiting- you just go to the page you need (if you can find it,) and with New School we had to get to certain places before we could look for what we wanted; New School with most things it was easier to touch what you needed and get there right away; This, of course, depended on the type of reference that was being researched- a good point to follow up on.
QUESTION: It was interesting when you were asked to look for the Presidents (and Stanley Cup winners) that no one mentioned that the World Almanac is from 2006. What does that mean?
ANSWER: That the list wasn't right. We've had more Presidents than it showed in the almanac. Books can be outdated, but the internet is always up-to-date.
QUESTION: That leads to the question of accuracy. Books are given to editors before they're allowed to be published so the information has been verified carefully. What about the accuracy on the internet?
ANSWER: Most things are probably true, but I know people say you can't always trust the internet. I guess that's a point for books.
Some other random things that came up: Old School is free after you buy the book, New School costs money; If you don't have a wifi connection you're out of luck, but with books there are no worries. To counter that- you can always use your phone, but if you need a book at the library and it's closed you're out of luck; With cell/iPad you always have all of your information with you; Books are always ready- but with iPads you need to charge battery. If you don't have a charge you're out of luck. You need a flashlight to read a book in the dark, but with a cell or iPad it lights up.
There were other comments made, but I had trouble getting it all. As is indicated with all the chatter, this is a topic the kids couldn't get enough of and an enjoyable lesson for all.
After the discussion, the kids had the opportunity to use the iPads freely (and the reference books, as well.) Although the majority gravitated toward New School technology (Gathering around the iPads), I was happy to see at least one boy enjoying the World Atlas.
Once we were back in the classroom, I have the kids find similarities and differences between the two types using a Venn Diagram on the Technology Challenge II worksheet. They label the two circles Old School and New School in a Venn Diagram to Compare Old vs New. They had to compare and contrast the two types based on all they had experienced and our class discussion (Lots of information to compare).
After completing the Venn Diagram, they summarized the experience with an opinion about which type, Old School or News School they thought was the better type of technology (Sharing her opinion on which is bette)r.