By Leah Peterson

The Fall issue of The Change Agent is all about the technology in our lives. Our own Steve Quann participated on the editorial board. (Find out about how you can be on a future Change Agent editorial board). In this issue, articles explore the benefits and drawbacks of the new technologies that are increasingly part of our daily lives. The magazine and its website (available via subscription) offer many discussion prompts and ideas for use in the classroom, but here are some extra ideas for combining The Change Agent’s discussions and language skill-building with some technology use in the classroom.

Lesson idea:

Many of the articles written by adult students grapple with the pros and cons of personal technology. Page 25, “Social Media: Charting the Benefits and Challenges” by Betty Garcia, shows one student’s attempt to organize her thoughts in the form of a table. Make sure that everyone has a basic understanding of what social media refers to. Then read through the article and table and discuss Betty’s points. For more background reading and discussion, you may want to have additional articles on hand, such as “It Hurt. I was Furious.” by Sterlin Reaves or “Finding Felix: How Facebook Helped Us Find Our Little Brother” by Makeda Laurent.

Picture

Have students recreate the table in Microsoft Word including the items they agree with and adding in their own ideas. To make the table, open Word and select “Insert” then click on “Table”. Select a table that is three columns wide by seven rows high to match the article. Fill in the text


Take it further:

  1. Once the chart is complete, challenge students to add bullet points to each line giving examples.
  2. Urge students to improve the presentation of their charts by tweaking font options, alignment, and shading.

Variations

    1. Have students come up with the content as a group. Students could each contribute their opinions about social media and combine them all in a list. Working as a group or individually, they could then create the table and determine where each item belonged. If this step was done individually, afterwards they could compare where they’d placed each item and discuss any differences they found.
    2. For some online fun, check out another social media pro/con list. Then click on the “create a list” tab to make your own. You could use the topic of social media or pick a new issue. This type of list lends itself well for issues where a decision needs to me made. Note that you need to set up a free account for it to calculate the results and show you a graph, but you do not need an account to just preview the information.

Share any comments, your experience using this activity, or any suggested variations you have below.


Leah Peterson is the Assistant Director of the EdTech Center and manages E-Learning PD, a collection of online courses that provide opportunities for adult education professionals to explore topics that they are facing in their programs, exchange ideas with one another, and get feedback from experts in the field. She also coordinates the IDEAL Consortium, and is the co-founder and editor for the Tech Tips blog. Leah is the Communication Coordinator for World Education/U.S. and supports the NELRC publication, The Change Agent. Leah is currently working toward her M.Ed in E-Learning and Instructional Design at Northeastern University.

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