Category Archives: technology

College prep, required skills, and other results

“We have to prepare our students for college work.”, “These students are not learning how to take notes.” “These tools undermine our study skills.”, “Are students achieving more as a result of learning with these tools?”

These are just some of the comments and questions I have run into again and again as I promote more use of technology in the curriculum. That’s why I was intrigued by Will’s post last week on web 2.0 making it’s way into colleges. I often wonder how much current high school students will use these new technologies in their classrooms at college. My impression is that certain college professors are embracing these technologies but, like the k-12 arena, it’s hit or miss.

For now, we still have to prepare our students for exams and term papers but I think we can mix that in with new pedagogies which embrace the use of a technology integrated curriculum. Over time I hope to see this divide narrow and there be a more consistent set of skills between high school and college and life, for that matter.

I really like the new NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) for Students developed by ISTE (in collaboration with many, many people). I hope these 21st Century skills can be embraced by educators of all grade levels as a good road map for looking forward in education. David Warlick framed it nicely when talking about a recent presentation he made:

In it, I suggested three converging elements of what we do, and how, through the shared electrons of those elements (if I might carry the metaphor a little further), we might generate the energy that we need to drive learning in flat classrooms, turning them into learning engines.

Those elements are:

  • We are preparing children for a future we can not describe
  • We are preparing children, who as a generation, are enjoying a rich information experience outside-the-classroom.
  • We are preparing children within a new and dynamic information environment with new qualities that seem ready made for teaching and learning.

Well put, David. As educators, we need to understand and experience these tools that our students are growing up with. We have to be willing to learn about them and to use them. After that, we can choose not to use them but that choice has to be made after learning/using them.

Rethinking Professional Development

In digesting some of the summer blog posts (too many to name at this point – but Scott McLeod may have started the conversation about a month ago with this post), I have realized that I have totally failed in part of my job. I’ve been quite focused on getting the teachers and students to utilize the new web technologies but I have not pushed these tools with administration and business side of the school. And now I understand these tools (especially RSS and social networks) are extremely important in doing their jobs. They are the key in making connections and networking. When you are the only business manager, development officer, or whatever manager in a school, you need to go beyond the walls of your school to find people who have similar days to you, who think like you, who solve problems like you do.

I have put administrative training at the top of my to do list this school year. Specifically, I want to introduce them to RSS and blogs.  Of course, (ideally) this will serve two purposes: One, help them network, learn, and make connections.  These tools are becoming increasingly more important in professional development.  People who do not tap into these technologies may fall behind those who do.  And at a time where going off-campus to meet other colleagues f2f at conference becomes harder to do, we need to embrace these technologies that help us do just that from our desks.

Two, once administrators begin to use these tools they will begin their power and their potential when used in the classroom, which can only increase the awareness around campus.  I know that one workshop will not be enough – it will probably take several follow-up sessions for some. I think even after that some will still not understand the power of these connections.

I had a conversation with a colleague last week who said of blogs, “what do I have to say that others would want to read?”  He had missed the idea that blogs are conversations, not soapboxes, and through these conversations we make meaningful connections.

So, as I look to the fall (which is not so far away), I begin to gather pieces for some professional development workshops for administrators. If you have suggestions out there, please send them my way.