Monday, January 21, 2013

It's not 1989

I saw this online the other day. It's too good not to share...

When I used to be the Technology Coordinator for a K-8 school, I had colleagues sometimes try to make this argument. I'll grant that teaching with technology comes easier for some than for others--we all have different gifts and talents and strengths and weaknesses, after all. That said, let's be honest about when and where we are teaching here, people! We need to be cognizant of the culture in which we are teaching and learning. Just as the printed page produced a shift in education in the 16th and 17th centuries, computer technology and electronic media have shifted (and are continuing to shift) education in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I'm certainly not arguing that every lesson you teach should be computerized or technology enhanced, just as every lesson you teach doesn't need to include a textbook. And please don't misconstrue this to mean that every lesson ought to be lectured via PowerPoint. (Ugh.)

What I am saying is that there is a basic level of technological literacy that should be a prerequisite for all teachers today. Of course we would expect teachers to have pedagogical knowledge (how to teach) and content knowledge (what to teach.) We would expect teachers to have the ability to manage a classroom and exhibit the dispositions for teaching (creativity, communication skills, professionalism, etc.) Certainly we would expect teachers to exhibit a love for being around young people. In the same way, we also should be able to expect a level of tech savvy from all teachers.

The question is, what would constitute this level of tech savvy?

In a nutshell, here are the skills and attitudes I would suggest:
  • Every teacher must have a basic computer literacy. Every teacher should be familiar with modern operating systems and file systems. No excuses here: computers are easier to use today than ever before in history! 
  • Every teacher should be able to do basic troubleshooting of their computers and other devices--e.g., check connections, close problematic programs, and if all else fails, restart it.
  • Every teacher should be able to use a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tools (e.g., PowerPoint or alternatives), and graphics software (photo editing, etc.) 
  • Every teacher should be able to create digital content. Currently this might involve what has been termed digital storytelling -- using photos, audio, and video to convey meaning.
  • Every teacher should be discerning in their use of computers to aid instruction. Computers can enhance teaching and learning, but this is not a given. Teachers need to know enough about educational technology to make wise decisions about when to use technology in their teaching practice.
  • Every teacher should have the ability to communicate with students, parents, and fellow teachers via technology. I think teachers should have their own blog/website and update it regularly. I'll even venture to say that I think teachers should be active in social media...though perhaps not with their students. (I have very mixed feelings about this...the better part of wisdom today seems that teachers should not be "friends" with their students. But I reserve the right to change my mind on this point.)
  • Every teachers must have a willingness to continue to learn! Technology is ever evolving, and excellent teachers must be life-long learners. (Particularly in the realm of technology!)
That's my list. My thinking on this may continue to evolve, but I'm pretty confident that these are skills and attitudes all 21st century teachers should possess.

What else would you add to this list? What would you take away?

1 comment:

  1. I would add - passwords, bookmarks, and file management system (cloud computing) Without a management system, an educator is just fumbling in and out of the classroom. Finally, a back-up system. Do the COB - create, organize, and backup!