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Two More Cents Worth Regarding Pre-Service Technology Skills

I don’t think I’ve ever had so many comments posted so quickly, as with yesterdays call for ideas on pre-service tech skills. All eight of my readers commented on the same day. What I am adding here is going in both as a comment for yesterday’s post and as a new post. If you want to add comments to this subject, please post them on yesterday’s blog, so that we can keep these ideas together.

One thing that has been implied but I do not believe has been explicitly stated so far is context. Most of the people who read this blog have become proficient in Web 2.0 tools because there was something that they wanted to learn about — mostly Web 2.0 tools. We went into the blogosphere, subscribing to the writers we want to pay attention to with our brand new aggregators, tracking the Wikipedia and perhaps even sifting through the histories of articles and definitions, started our own del.icio.us accounts and then used them as a springboard into other people’s digital libraries, and subscribed to them. Totally cool, we thought.

However, I fear that if we take college students into these tools, without some specific and relevant questions to answer or problems to solve, then they may seem cool to them, but the skills will be strictly academic. I think these students should be presented with a problem. For example, you need a multimedia presentation that will teach (some concept) perfectly. Then start with a discussion of the problem to create some grounding in the elements of the problem, then introduce them to Wikipedia, then Technorati, then bloglines, then…

The second penny I would add is a springboard off of something that Jeff Utecht said. He said that “They may already have the information literacy skills…”. In talking with teenagers and from what some of the research says, I think that kids these ages are technology literate, but not necessarily information literate. See Study Shows some Teens not as Web-savvy as Parents. I think that we should help them to develop these skills by isolating out established skills, forcing them to rely on the fully networked, digital, and overwhelming information environment. For instance, in the first stage of their research, they are not allowed to use any resources that have been in any way filtered by traditional publishing or formal jurying. After the first night’s discussions of what they found in the online conversation, then they are allowed to find supporting information, but only digital. In their first drafts of their multimedia presentation, allow no words. Only images and sound. They have to express their ideas with media other than the written word.

Again, we get it, because we learned these tools to solve our own problems. Pre-service teachers, and all learners for that matter, need to be going into learning experiences to accomplish a goal that they identify with.

2 more cents worth.

Comments

  • http://schoolof.info/infomancy infomancy

    Very interesting thoughts. I love the seperation of “technology” and “information” that supports moving forward with critical thinking and information literacy.

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  • http://www.brianmull.com bmull

    David,

    I do agree with you that we need to give these preservice teachers a purpose when it comes to learning these new tools, but I think playtime is important at first. That’s why I recommend the “intro and go” approach. I find that if I am introducing a new program or a new anything to students that they can be actively engaged in, I often feel I am getting tuned out as they are individually trying to figure out all of the ins and outs of what they have been introduced to. I find that by giving playtime to the students before actually giving a purpose, they learn all about the program and how it works as well as how to integrate it with other tools on their own. Then, when it’s time to provide that purpose, we can get past the technology part and on to the information itself.

  • http://www.theeducationalmac.com/blog KellyD

    I would agree with most of what has been said about the approach. What I question is the level of comfort for the preservice teachers with the information or technology. The experiences I have personally had with a couple of groups of preservice teachers leads me to question that. Also as I work with new teachers every year, I think they should be more comfortable with technology in general than they are. Even if they are the digital natives, they seem to have come from a foreign land so to speak. Maybe my expectations for them are too high, or perhaps they just have so much to do and learn as new teachers that the skills and comfort level I expect to see don’t shine through.

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  • http://www.sad61.k12.me.us/~marsenault marsenault

    My work with teachers and their technology integration pursuits has shown me that you can not just teach skills in isolation. Just like we know not to teach technology skills in isolation we must not forget this when working with adults. Many people feel that if we show teachers how to use certain technology skills they will figure out how to integrate them into their curriculum. Teachers must be shown ways to integrate these skills. Once they get going with what you’ve worked on, they will often come up with new innovative ways of using that skill in their curriculum.

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