Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Tech Standards and Requirements

Since technology has become such an integral part of our lives today, I think it's essential that as educators we discuss both how we can use it in our classrooms and how we can teach it to our students. This where the Oregon Educational Technology Standards can play an important role. They give guidelines about how to teach "technological literacy" to our students. Just like reading and writing are essential forms of literacy, so also is the knowledge of how to use and interpret technology. Ignoring technology won't make it go away, so I think it's our duty as educators to educate our students about it.

Several of the standards stood out to me. One standard calls for "Creativity and Innovation." As the highest level of thinking on Bloom's Taxonomy, I think the ability to create is an incredibly important skill. In order to create, students need to be able to do all of the lower level thinking skills, including analyzing and evaluating data and applying it to their creation. Teaching students how to use technology for creative purposes is a great way to encourage out of the box thinking and possibly to scaffold that learning with technological tools.

I also liked the standard for "Research and Information Fluency." As someone who is interested in history, I have done a fair amount of research in my day. The explosion of websites has made this research both easier and harder. There is a plethora of data at my fingertips. Although it's much easier to explore topics from the comfort of my computer than by traveling to distant libraries, it's also difficult to sort through all the unnecessary and superfluous details. In addition, I have to constantly be aware of the reliability of my sources. And on top of that, I have to be conscientious about correctly attributing my sources and not plagiarizing. I need to teach my students all of these essential research skills, as they will probably turn more and more to technology instead of books for their information.

Finally, I think the standard about "Digital Citizenship" is extremely important. It's very easy to be anonymous on the web and say things we would never say in person, be that bullying another person or perpetuating prejudice about a particular group. It's important to teach our students what is acceptable behavior on the internet and in other technological realms. Also, there's always the possibility that other people are seeking to do harm to our children via the internet. Just as my parents taught me not to accept candy from strangers, so we need to teach our children about safe computing practices.

There are certain challenges to teaching about these technology standards in our classrooms. The technology might not be available due to budgeting issues. Also, even if technology is available, it may be outdated. The speed of invention is another hurdle; technology becomes obsolete so quickly that, even if we teach our students how to use it, they might not need that skill by the time they graduate. I think the best thing we can do as teachers is to be flexible. Also, I think it's better not to focus exclusively on teaching specific technological skills, but also to teach thinking skills that are needed to work with technology. If we teach students how to think about and figure out uses for technology on their own, then they will be able to adapt to whatever new inventions arrive in the future.

1 comment:

  1. As you stated, generally not enough attention is placed on 'research & info. fluency'. Your background in this area certainly will be advantageous as you implement this standard.

    I'm wondering if you might wish to soften your statement on "... not to teach students specific tech skills." Possibly you man not to over-emphasize or not exclusively teach ... specific tech skills?