Preston Michelson on TechED

It’s Friday night, the gym is filled to capacity, and senior Preston Michelson is busy at work, announcing play-by-play action of a heated varsity girl’s basketball game.

He’s jacked-in, and few symbolize Student 2.0 as well or as effectively as Michelson.

Like a seasoned symphony orchestrator, Michelson moves two laptops and a sound mixer while cueing music and sound effects. In a deep, clear voice that would make Dick Vitale jealous, he announces plays while Tweeting updates on his Smartphone.

He serves as executive editor of the school’s online news site, The Falconer, acts as Executive Student Union President, and sits on the Honor Council.

Michelson speaks about the future of education with great excitement, but he’s no less grateful for the opportunities now available to him.

“Some of things that we do, live streaming of games and creating podcasts and creating live broadcasts, is already mirroring things on a professional level,” Michelson says. “One can only imagine what’s going to happen 20 years from now.”

As much as Michelson utilizes technology—and he encourages more teachers to make effective use of it in their classrooms—he is extremely cognizant of its limitations.

“If you use [technology] in a smart manner, in a responsible manner, it is an invaluable tool in your learning,” he says. “With that being said, it can also be something that draws away from your learning.”

Students want to surf the web without any restrictions. But if Michelson puts on his “teacher’s cap,” he gets why many teachers fear that devices can distract more than inform.

“There are games and these kinds of things which if you allow unlimited technological access in the classroom… may become more and more prevalent,” he says.

All the same, Preston and I think that if a student wants to pay attention in class, she’s going to pay attention.

He puts if perfectly: “Whether it was 30 years ago when you were passing notes or doodling on a piece of paper, or whether it’s today and you’re playing games, if you don’t want to pay attention in class, you’re not going to pay attention in class.”

But we differ on making Facebook openly accessible in school. Other than journalism, a field in which social networking is becoming increasingly more important, Preston doesn’t see a good enough reason for how or why teachers could make effective use of this technology.

At many schools, teachers are not allowed to create class Facebook pages. I think that many educators could and should take advantage of this important mode of communication. I also think that if more schools endorsed Facebook as a teaching tool, many more teachers would think of great ways to make effective use of it.

But Preston acknowledges that tethering is only going to become more prevalent, and that if a student really wants to access Facebook, nothing is going to stop her.

“It’s one of those things that even though it’s not allowed, it’s nearly impossible to stop,” he says.

Listen to the podcast to get Preston’s views on smartphones and tablets.



As a coach, history and journalism teacher at Brimmer and May, a wonderful independent school in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, I have the absolute best job in the world. I am thrilled to get up every morning to engage with interesting young people, and I'm equally fortunate to have such amazing colleagues and mentors. As the founder of Spin Education, I encourage you to check-in frequently and submit posts and lessons—all in an effort to better our practice as teachers.

1 Comment

  • Reply December 28, 2012

    Jake

    Preston has exceeded all expectations since becoming our PA man over 2 years ago! His development of the Playon system at our school has put Palmer Trinity at the top of the list of school’s in Florida who use live streaming for their games! Many thanks to Preston and to Dave Cutler for their hard work at putting PTS in the front row for technology apps.

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