Students should build their own tree house.

A big issue in the Ed Tech world is the idea of the proverbial Creepy Tree House. A Creepy Tree House is what a professor can create by requiring his students to interact with him on a medium other than the class room tools. Examples of this would be requiring students to follow him/her on peer networking sites such as Twitter or Face book. ( for a better definition of a Creepy Tree House see John Krutsch’s blog post “Are You Building a Creepy Tree House?” ) Although I find Creepy Tree Houses to be one of the worst things in Education Technology; this is not to say that students following their professors on these types of applications. I personally follow two of my professors, and I believe this has only helped to build my enthusiasm for the class and for continuing my studies. This scenario may sound like the Creepy Tree House that I have just claimed to have feelings of disdain, but it is a different form of interaction. I sought out these individuals of my own accord, and was in no way directed to do so. I find that I enjoy the interaction, and it has provided me with a great amount of information that I can apply to my chosen profession.

As a student I would most likely run from any online class in which I was required to network with the professor outside of the class, or to use tool like Black Board Sync. I personally feel these tools too fully integrate class into the students’ everyday life. Yes this is what they are meant for, but I find that as a student I like to have a break from my studies. I do try to fully integrate myself with the class and participate as much as possible, but I find that situations like these remind me of the annoying kid in class. We’ve all had that experience; there is the one kid in class that bugs the heck out of the rest of the class. You know the kid the one who seems to talk just to make noise or interjects into a conversation in which he is not welcome. You rejected that student then, so why would it be any different with these new apps and possibilities in teaching?

Students reject Creepy Tree Houses for one reason they are creepy. I think a better approach to education is the idea of a Personal Learning Environment (PLE). This allows a student to build their own tree house, which they can invite the professor into when they feel comfortable doing so. This allows students to shut class off when they need to and turn it on when it is time. This method does not mean that the position of the teacher is in any way disintegrated. It has the opposite it allows the teacher to take on their true roll of mentor. Teachers in this system will move to the position of a mentor because they will be moved into the background and will just provide support through needed interaction (materials, demonstrations, Q/A). This allows student to learn how to truly learn by letting them build their own tree house into which they can incorporate anything.