Friday, November 6, 2009

Educate for a Changing Landscape

How can teachers and schools ensure that their students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy?

Teachers and schools need to educate for change in order to ensure that students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy. Students needs to be flexible and adaptable. They need to be able to develop and follow process models as well as organizational and problem solving skills. These habits of mind are more important than applications of fleeting duration.

In addition to the ability to adjust to changing landscapes, students need ample facility with existing technology tools to develop the confidence to explore available technology resources. A frequent response to a how-to questions is that "It's intuitive." This is only true if one has some experience to draw upon. Therefore, providing opportunities to gain experience using a variety of applications for a range of purposes may build a skill set that allows students to easily transition for older to newer technology.

It makes sense to choose tools that further learning outcomes. As the learner outcomes change, the tools will change or be used in new and creative ways. Thus, it makes sense to look closely at learning outcomes in a course and draw upon the tools that support those outcomes. If the tools do not support learning, they are superfluous. It may be that teachers need to alter learner outcomes in looking at the 21st century.

It seems that it is the overall learning outcomes which should be the highest priority. With clear 21st century outcomes, choosing appropriate tools to meet these outcomes will follow. As a variety of different high-tech and low-tech tools can be used for any particular purpose, it not important to teach any particular application. Appropriateness and effectiveness are the operative words. Encouraging diversity ad creativity in selection will ensure that students have a range of technology experiences.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Whose Job?

Communal Responsibility

Teaching the standards for 21st century literacy is the responsibility of the entire community including parents, administrators and teachers. However, some party needs to identify, organize, distribute responsibility, monitor and assess the process. I would advocate for the model used by the ISB ESL Department.

Step 1: Delineate the essential understandings as well as knowledge and skills.
Step 2: Do a curriculum audit to determine where these understandings are being developed in the present curriculum.
Step 3: Review the audit to determine where the remainder of the skills and knowledge will best support and deepen understanding of existing unit outcomes.
Step 4: Develop specific units to fill in curricular gaps.
Step 5: Document where 21st understandings will be developed and skills and knowledge with be taught and they will be assessed.
Step 6: Monitor and adjust based on formal and informal assessment data.

Collective Agreements

The challenge this dynamic model, because it is not a fixed system, must be adjusted whenever units change. In addition, the technology tools will change, more easily accomplishing more complex tasks. Therefore, One must caution against a system that focuses on teaching particular tools. Communication, collaboration and negotiation will be necessary to keep the system working effectively. Awareness, action and assessment are natural outgrowths of an increasingly sophisticated community with respect to 21st Century literacy. A new literacy program is already in gear as ISB educates members of the community and provides opportunities (such as the tech masters program) to use technology in new ways. Eventually, it may make sense to have a K-12 symposium with representatives from the parent community to determine expectations, document where these are already being met at home and at school and seek ways to meet those that are not now addressed.

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