Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The I and the C

This evening I was talking to a friend who was asking me about what sort of ICT vision she should be looking for in the schools where she is considering working.  We talked about the fact that in the ICT, it's the first two letters that are important - with the vast amount of Information that is available, students need to know how to search for what they need and they also need to know how to Communicate with the rest of the world.  In Technology Rich, Information Poor, Chapter 12 of 21st Century Skills, Alan November writes:
If we wanted to prepare our students for the global economy we would immediately turn every classroom into a global communications center linking students to authentic audiences around the world.  We would be providing professional development for teachers to redesign their assignments to be more rigorous and authentic.  We would be laser-beam focused on redefining what it means to be literate.
Alan November goes on to write that possibly the most important 21st century skill is Collaboration.  An important aspect of the 3 IB programmes is international mindedness and Alan November writes "In an interconnected world our students will need to learn how to understand various points of view and how to work with people in different cultures.  In this regard we need to globalize the curriculum."

I think focusing on the I and the C and not the Technology leads students to become more independent and gives them the control of and responsibility for their own learning.  What this means is that the teacher's role has to change because if we redefine the role of the learner then we automatically have to redefine the role of the teacher too.  If we are talking about ICT merely enhancing the curriculum, or just supporting what teachers are already doing then we are focusing on the T and simply using technology to do what we have always done in other ways.  Alan November addresses this in the last paragraph of his chapter:
The opportunity before us is to redesign the culture of our schools to empower students to take more responsibility for managing their own learning and to work collaboratively with classmates and people around the world.  Asking the right questions about the design of an empowering culture of teaching and learning is more important than bolting technology onto our industrial model of education.  

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