A very wise colleague of mine and I have been working towards creating an Information Technology/Literacy curriculum for our school that can stand the test of time. The funny thing is we don’t talk about technology. The conversation always seems shifts elsewhere. In one of the recent versions of our ever developing vision statements he wrote these words:
” It is our goal in developing an integrated curriculum to ensure that the way students learn with technology agrees with the way they live with technology.”
Sometimes words in the right order ring so true.
Much is being written at the moment about how schools need to shift their paradigm and move away from TECHNOLOGY SKILLS and move towards THINKING SKILLS.
So what technology skills do students NEED to know?
You ask 10 educators this question and they will give out 10 different answers.
Terms like Power Point,Word, Dream Weaver, Web Search often appear in them.
Should they not be replaced with with words like: Communicate, Write, Evaluate, and Think?
How can a curriculum or technology scope and sequence hope to keep up and remain relevant when software, hardware, and information change daily. All too often these elaborate documents that track and chronicle how technology is integrated and are used across the curriculum become dead the moment they are written. They exist because they are written in the traditional educational framework of : document, track and CONTROL.
The problem is the way we live with technology does not agree with this framework. We have to relinquish CONTROL and think BIGGER!
I learn new skills when I need to learn them.
I learn new skills when they are relevant to me and what I am doing.
I learn new skills when they contribute to my understanding of something.
If we wish our students to be successful in the 21st Century, they will need to know how to:
- Find and access information efficiently
- Evaluate the quality of information including both accuracy and bias
- Communicate effectively using all means of media
- Tap into the collective intelligence of many by collaborating both in person and electronically
- Keep themselves and others safe through responsible use and awareness of the dangers of a connected world
The tools used to meet these learning outcomes can vary widely but if you know the fundamentals behind how to communicate, evaluate, access, find, and share information then it does not matter what tool you use. You will be prepared.
Today technology has become an important part of meeting these fundamentals but it should never be the reason for learning to use it.
But what about the skills??
Who will teach them?
The answer is: You embed them right along side what you are doing. When you are doing it.
If I am having students present in Geography class and I want the students to present using a digital medium then I teach them how to use the tool properly and effectively right along side the content and purpose for doing the presentation in the first place. They need to learn the skills because they have been given a purpose.
Curriculum should always drive this purpose.
Math should drive it.
Science should drive it.
Social Studies should drive it.
P.E should drive it.
Purpose should drive it.
Of course expectations look different at all different age levels but that is what being an “expert of your students” is all about. Knowing what your students are capable of and structuring and creating a learning environments to meet their needs and push their boundries is what it is all about.
We are just getting started.
But it’s not just us.