My thoughts below are inspired by the following:
I am a tech integration specialist, my title says my job is to integrate technology, presumably that means in the classroom. But I tend to think of myself more as an instructional or learning coach. It has never been about the tools, but about the learning. As educators I have always viewed our role to teach the underlying skills necessary for learning. We do this through our content areas, but it is these underlying skills that are our most important goals.
- Research: Question, Search, Analyze, Evaluate*
- Manage: Organize, Relate, Categorize, Sequence*
- Collaborate: Communicate (written, oral), Critique, Analyze, Evaluate, Advocate*
- Create: Reflect, Organize, Write *
- Share: Communicate, Publish*
* see resources below for a more detailed list of skills.
These skills can be accomplished by low tech means as I learned in school; pencil, paper, note cards and files folders or high tech means with mobile devices, the internet, cameras and youtube. While I was in school they did not have technology integration specialists, my teachers taught me.
My teachers taught me how to:
- write with a pencil, to print and use cursive
- use the library card catalog, search the microfiche, take notes, make an outline, concept maps and write a critical paper
- write a causal, formal and business letter
- create a paper, poster, diorama, and a book
On of my fondest memories of school was in 3rd grade creating a diorama for a book report. We spent nearly a week of class time creating figurines, coloring our shoe boxes and learned to tell a story with our projects. We stopped learning the core content – to learn the essential skills, communicating our understanding through visual means.
Some how a computer got in the way of that process. A tool to assist has become an obstacle. It has become someone else’s responsiblity. Teacher’s tend to expect student’s to already know how to effectively search the internet, use email and communicate properly online. They want students to come already knowing how to word-process, and use google docs, and make a presentation.
Many schools have created classes for students to learn these skills so teachers do not have to take the time. I think there are many reasons for creating these classes. Technology moves quickly and there are so many options it can be daunting. Standards based high stakes testing forced a focus on specific content standards and teachers do not want to divert time way from addressing them. The courses are often seen as temporary measures until teachers can catch up with the tech skills they need. But as long as the tech, the tools, and the skills are viewed as separate instructional objectives these classes are not likely to fade away and teachers are not likely to acquire the skills they need to incorporate them into their curriculum.
These classes have mixed effectiveness as Jeff Utecht noted “We can not teach everything “just in time” so we end up teaching everything “just in case” and then we teach kids things they might never use or teach them things that they won’t use until the end of the year.”
Ultimately it is the goal that students and teachers will learn and use the skills that naturally occur using the learning process. That the ‘computer’ will be a tool that facilitates learning, communicating, creating and sharing and not be an obstacle If I do my job right, I should be working myself out of a job.
Project 21 Skills