Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Talking about Technology

As Tech Coordinator one of my jobs this year is to meet regularly with every grade level and all the specialist departments to discuss technology and learning.  Sometimes these meetings are concerned with some of the "housekeeping" tasks (distributing equipment, setting up accounts etc), sometimes they are concerned with training (how to use various peripherals, different Web 2.0 tools, ePortfolios etc) and sometimes they are about technology standards for both students and teachers.  For the past few weeks these talks have been about the ISTE standards - we've been looking at the NETS-T rubrics to self assess where we are as individual teachers and as a grade, and where we need to move forward.

At my first meeting with each group I explained to teachers that the standards that we are looking at now are in fact the second version of the ISTE-Ts.  The first ones that were published in 2000 dealt with technology operations and concepts, the curriculum, productivity, integration and so on.  The new NETS-Ts published in 2008 differ considerably as there is more focus on 21st century skills.  In his book Digital Community, Digital Citizen Jason Ohler notes that there are 6 words that appear in the 2008 standards that are absent in the earlier version:  creativity, innovation, digital, citizenship, culture and global.

The implication of these 6 words are huge.  As Ohler points out, "we must move beyond technology integration toward idea generation ... beyond mere curriculum integration or as a means to simply update the status quo with new tools.  Instead we need to use them to generate, explore and use new ideas that challenge and redefine the status quo." This is something that I think many schools still don't "get".  They are still talking about tech integration and tools.

One of our discussions today was about helping students to engage in a global community.  Our Grade 2 teachers discussed the importance of this in an international school in Mumbai with children of 50 different nationalities, compared with, for example, children in a rural/monocultural part of the USA or indeed any other country.  Students everywhere do need to understand a multicultural, pluralistic, interconnected world.  Our students, of course, are faced with these every day.  We also talked about how important it is that our students can participate as citizens in "local, global and digital communities simultaneously" and as a natural part of their everyday lives.  Being connected brings an added dimension:  students move from thinking in terms of "I" and "they", and start to think in terms of "we".

Photo Credit:  Me, We by Joe Stratton, 2011 AttributionNoncommercial

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