A colleague recently shared a Will Richardson quote with me: “How successful would pen and paper be for our students if they had teachers who couldn’t read or write? Same for computers.” Thought provoking stuff.
Yesterday, I came across Jeff Utecht’s awesome blog post which took this idea even further. Jeff talks about how we are well into the 21st Century, and that any “21st Century skills” we should be focusing on as a result should be well-embedded into our curriculum by now. Good point – we are only months away from being 12 years into the 21st Century. 1.2 decades. Hmmmm….
Jeff also mentions a shift that needs to take place – from thinking of technology less as a “tool” to use and more as a “skill” that we need to teach and that students need to learn. We should be teaching students the skills they need to use technology – any technology they choose – in powerful ways to enhance the teaching and learning situation in their classrooms. This makes a ton of sense…. but going back to the Richardson quote at the beginning of this post – how many teachers actually feel that they possess the skills they need to be able to teach these same skills to students effectively? Do our B.Ed. programs focus on teaching these skills to pre-service teachers? Do our school districts provide adequate support for training teachers to make this shift? Can our school and district technology infrastructure handle the demands that will be placed on them if all (or even many) classrooms start utilizing technology on a regular basis? If the infrastructure can’t handle it, is there appropriate funding in place to make sure we can upgrade until we can?… and how long will it take to get there?
The last couple conferences I have attended have had a variety of options for topics. The sessions on technology seem to be very full. Nobody can deny that teachers are interested in the topic and are showing up to learn about it in large numbers. Nevertheless, many seem to leave the sessions with many “That makes sense, but…” , or “I would do this in my classroom, but…” comments. We just can’t seem to get away from the “…but” at the end of the sentence. Some have expressed that most sessions focus on the “why” aspects of seamless technology integration, but not the “how”. Despite terrific resources like P21.org and their document “P21 Common Core Toolkit” that outlines what lessons at a variety of grades and content areas look like when technology is a skill that needs to be taught and used, and not an “add on” to the curriculum, we still seem to be lacking a definition of what this looks like in a typical classroom.
I am left wondering, if teachers WANT to find ways to start teaching technology as a “skill” and not just as a “tool”, why is there still such a disconnect? As a school district, what can we do? As a technology coordinator, how I can I help with this change? Your comments are appreciated. Please join the discussion by posting your thoughts below.