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Obama’s Mistake…

BottomLine

Technology should be invisible. It is the pencil and paper of our time. But until every learner and teacher-learner has sufficient and equitable access to appropriate information and communication technologies, we should enthusiastically continue to make the “T” word an explicit and high-volume part of all of our planning.

Washington Post blogger, Valerie Strauss, has invited faculty members of Columbia University Teachers College to guest blog about President Obama’s Blueprint for rewriting the No Child Left Behind law. Yesterday’s contributor was Ellen Meier, professor of computing and education and co-director of the college’s Center for Technology and School Change.

In here piece, Obama’s mistake with technology in ed reform, Dr. Meier opposes the apparent devaluing of technology as a catalyst for change.  She hones in on the document’s relegation of technology to a position of support mechanism and an element of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) theme.  She writes,

The blueprint effectively consigns technology to a subordinate role in reform, rather than recognizing it as a fundamental requirement for new millennium teaching and learning. By consolidating technology funding, it effectively silences the voices of innovative educators interested in using technology to leverage effective, imaginative approaches to schooling.

I agree with Meier’s statements and I get the same impressions from the document, which seems to address tech from a “business as usual” perspective. However, this is all part of an ongoing struggle in the ed-tech community between treating information and communication technologies (ICT) as a separate element in the endeavor of education or infusing it into the framework of teaching and learning — integrating the technology and therefore, making it invisible.

A while back, I wrote about a conversation I was part of in Austin about the prospects of the state’s elimination of a required technology class (What Difference Might One “S” Make?). With the dedicated and state-mandated class, tech gains importance and prestige — not to mention funding. But technology instruction, which carries specific accountability measures, becomes too strictly defined and separated from the rest of the school. Without the technology class, schools become more free to specialize, adapt, innovate, and truly integrate, but they lose the authority and funding to do so.

I do not believe that Dr. Meier is advocating either position to the exclusion of the other. None of us are. We are simply finding the language that describes ICT as a critical component of the education formula in a way that empowers success, provokes innovation, and is relevant to the contexts of teaching and learning in the 21st century.

Meier makes an especially compelling argument about the need for assured technology expertise in our schools and districts, people who are following trends, aware of emerging tech, and qualified to innovate by utilizing appropriate new technologies.  I was especially excited by her statement that the Blueprint’s approach…

..is more likely to result in “technologizing” the status quo —integrating technology into existing practices – rather than using technology to create engaging new learning environments.

A Word Tree
(Click image to enlarge
or click
here to launch the visualization)

Taking a closer and more quantitative look at the document I used IBM’s Many Eyes tool-set to visualize the place the tech plays in the Blueprint. I started, of course, with a word cloud, in which technology just barely shows up out of the top 150 re-occuring words in the document.  But this, in and of itself means almost nothing.  As the Many Eyes site says, “It (the tool) was designed to give pleasure, and not to provide reliable analytic insight.”

However, we get a clearer look by running a Word Tree (see left) revealing that technology is used 14 times in the document.

  • Five times it is listed along with STEM subjects.  Two of the listings are presented in a way that, to me, imply a continuum subjects, placing history, civics, foreign languages, the arts, financial literacy, and “other subjects” at the less important end — or at least separating STEM out from other subjects.
  • Nine times it is listed as a way to improve instruction, address student learning challenges, and accomplish the goals of the grant.

But even its poor showing in the word race shouldn’t, alone, be cause for concern.  After all, “technology should be invisible,” RIGHT? (“technology should be invisible” shows up in 2,700 Google-indexed web pages).

There are three objections that I have to where the blue print is taking us.

  1. The One size fits all approach the our promotion of the STEM subjects seems to ignore completely that even though we do need more youngsters pursuing a science, technology, or mathematics field, not everyone needs to, and we will continue to need smart and creative people pursuing the “other subjects.”  When people are complaining about TV, they are not usually complaining about the picture size or quality.  What they want is better stories.  Engineering is easy.  Telling a better and more compelling story is hard.
  2. In the first paragraph, Ellen Meier describes technology as “a catalyst for all educational reform efforts for the 21st century.”  On my first reading, I thought that this statement was a bit over-reaching.  But now that I think about it, she is right.  Globalization, economic transition, brand new industries and industries in decline… all of these bellwethers of change owe themselves to advances in information and communication technologies.  In addition, because of technology, information has changed in:
    • What it looks like,
    • What we look at to view it,
    • Where we go to find it,
    • How we find it,
    • What we can do with it, and
    • How we communicate it
  3. Because information is now networked, digital, and abundant, what it means to be literate has changed and so too has the meaning and method of lifelong learning.

Technology should be invisible.  It is the pencil and paper of our time.  But until every learner and teacher-learner has sufficient and equitable access to appropriate information and communication technologies, we should enthusiastically continue to make the “T” word an explicit and high-volumn part of all of our planning.

Comments

  • Dottie

    Bravo David, You did a great job of framing this issue. I always have a hard time understanding why folks don’t see why making the tools and training available is a win-win for schools. As adults we expect that our employers will give us the tools to do our jobs.

    On a side note: I happened to be in a classroom yesterday and watched a teacher having to console several students who had not done well on their End of grade tests. I think our legislators and policy makers should be around to see the damage they inflict.

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Thanks, Dottie! I wish that we could get pictures of the pain and humiliation we are inflecting on students, many of whom may be enormously talented in ways that we need, yet our government seems intent on labeling them failures from the start. It does not only hurt them, it hurts our future. Thanks again for commenting…

  • cris

    I am currently teaching in a district that is “out of paper.” I bring my own to school. The students are poor, they don’t bring their own pencils or pens, so we provide them. I also do not have textbooks, so I have students write everything I show them on my projector or ELMO. But I don’t need the ELMO, I need paper, pencils and textbooks. I need to make copies of instruction sheets, pair-work games, physical flashcards they can study on the bus, etc. In another classroom at a private school, I have no technology, so I use a giant piece of paper for students to copy and it works just as well as my projector or ELMO, and the school only has to pay for a piece of paper. I think you are blind to some of the more fundamental funding issues in schools if you are really appalled at the priorities in the Blueprint. As much as I love technology, technology funding should not come before (i.e., at the expense of) other things that are currently underfunded. Technology is a catalyst for improvement because it is an exciting mode of delivery, but it is not educational content. And, most importantly, teachers who do not have technology in their budgets may have technology on their wish lists, but they have PAPER, PENCILS, TEXTBOOKS, and PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT (such as science experiment supplies) on their need lists. Yes, technology can help education, but it is not as high of a priority as the fundamentals we have been getting wrong for so many years.
    Christine L.
    Japanese Teacher

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      I’ll be replying to this one, but got to catch the train right now!

    • Blair

      I have friends that teach in schools in deifferent parts of NC that face these same issues. One friend teaches a program for kids that need extra help, but this position is going to be eliminated due to funds being short. The whole school got new computers and new technology, but if their are no teachers there to teach, the technology is not being used. Education in our country is declining while technology increases; this is a pointless exchange. We are only hurting ourselves.

      • Shannon

        Blair, I have heard of technology specialists in schools being let go and if the positions are re-hired, they will be replaced with certified teachers who will help teachers integrate technology into the classroom. I think this plan seems like a win-win situation for schools.

    • Tha Labor Nurse

      I can hardly believe that this is even true. It is so sad that such things still even exist in developed countries like America. I can’t even imagine the frustration and the headaches of teaching school adn the students don’t even have pen/pencil and paper! Are there classrooms and electrcity?

      Tha Labor Nurse

    • Holly

      My daughter teaches in NC and has experienced similar problems. She depends on her student’s parents to provide copy paper throughout the year and other basic supplies. I’m not sure what the answer is to closing the gap between what is currently offered in public education and what should be offered. Cost, of course, is the biggest problem. I think most school systems would be willing to move toward higher technology use if overcoming the cost was possible.

      David – great information – I found the “Many Eyes” site to be very interesting.

      Holly

  • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

    Christine,

    I sympathize with your situation, shutter that this might be going on (you ARE talking about a school in the United States, not a third world country?), and can imagine the how my blog post might might aggravate a professional education facing what you are.

    But I have to respectfully disagree with your suggestion that I am

    “..blind to some of the more fundamental funding issues in schools..”

    and especially to your expressed belief that

    “technology funding should not come before (i.e., at the expense of) other things that are currently underfunded.”

    It is the instinct of the starving to beg for and be happy with a handful of rice. But we are talking about our children, their future, and our future. We should not be asking for nor should we be satisfied with “small steps.” Our children need and deserve it all. They need to be learning in a contemporary information environment, and we should not be satisfied with relics of a gasping past.

    Your attitude is perfectly understandable and your obvious dedication is an inspiration and a credit to the profession. But it is the wrong attitude. Coming through with some paper, pencils, and textbooks — fundamentals — would not get you or your students even close to being ready for their future. There is no halfway, no point of satisfaction except for what our children need. We need to demand and expect learning environments that are appropriate for the task at hand, preparing today’s children, within a dynamically new information environment, for an unpredictable future.

    All barriers must be overcome…

    • Grace Hubbard

      David,
      I agree with your points, and yet, in those times of such deficits it is so hard to keep our sites set on a higher goal. There is the recognition of the requirement for technology. In schools where technology is a dream, I wonder about the human resources that can keep teachers committed and skillful.
      Grace

      • Sarah Blue

        Well said. When teachers jobs are being cut, the class sizes are naturally getting bigger, students are getting less 1:1 time, and teachers are surely getting frustrated with having to do more work, deal with more angry parents, in the same amount of time. Unfortunately this is happening all around us, not even just where technology is a dream.

        http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/12/1429672/three-cms-magnets-get-break-on.html

    • Andrea Lowder

      I agree with you on the importance of technology and the increase use of it. How is this to be accomplished when technology it exceeding our teachers? With the upcoming school year, and 500 teaching positions to be eliminated in Mecklenburg county, NC alone, how can the technology be beneficial? Will technology teach our kids? Will it take the place of human bodies? I feel that our children still need the classroom and teachers to gain important knowledge, technology can’t replace everything. We need human touch and if that is lacking then that can cause our children to not know the importance of humanity. I am currently in a technology course geared for teaching and I am realizing that technology is the new way and we must get on board, but we must never lose that human part of teaching also.

    • Wanda

      Hi David,
      I agree with you that we should always have our sites on the “larger steps” but sometimes it take the “baby steps” to achieve the larger steps.I am fortunate enough to work at a community college where we have a high fidelity simulator and the students love it and I see great benefits from it. We obtained it through a grant but I have also had the experience where we ran out of paper and could not copy things the students needed or that would have benefitted instruction.
      On another note i have issues with the “No child left behind” because it seems as if the students are being “taught” to the EOG tests and not really how to succeed in college. For instance I can not believe the number of students at our community college who tell me I never had to “study” in high school and I do not know how and heaven knows you must be able to study to succeed in college. Your thoughts?

  • Leonard Klein

    As a science teacher I worry that science is declining. It is true that not everyone need to be a scientist, but many if not most of the critical issues of the day do have science at the root and so everyone needs some knowledge of science. Technology makes science more approachable for many. True those of us who teach it need to make it more user friendly. I think that with out many students involved in science we may loose our edge in the world of technology. Where will the jobs be? I ramble, I quit. :-)

    Len

  • http://www.gabble-on.com Ethan Shen

    David,

    I was enthralled to learn that the current bill has specifically marked out money for the further integration of technology into classrooms in the first place. Perhaps it is just the sin of low expectations, but as a building of language tools for high school students, I thought the cost of adoption of new tools was going to be something that parents would need to bear the cost of alone. This article and the articles it references were fascinating to me. Thank you and keep up the great writing.

    - Ethan

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  • Meredith

    My, these are powerful points and poignant examples. I do not have any children of my own, so I have not been as attuned to No Child Left Behind as parents and educators of those age groups are. However, I have yet to hear anything positive about it.

    • Julie West

      Meredith,
      I am like you. I do not have kids of my own but my brother and sister in law are both in the school system. My brother gets so frustrated with the No Child Left Behind. I’ve not heard anything positive about it either.

  • Grace Hubbard

    I am an educator and a student in an Information Technology class in the discipline of nursing. Speaking from my student role, I have gained such an appreciation for the ways in which one can bring creativity and learning to the classroom through the use of technology. I am a novice, and have not used technology much. It shows! It became clear to me in the first week of class, if I want to be successful in educating students to be competitive in the workforce, technolgy in the classroom is imperative. Technology as a part of implementing the curriculum to meet the students where they are, as well as increasing the students’ knowledge of technological applications in a wide array of settings.
    If courses teaching and using technology are not required, it appears there will remain much resistance and lack of recognition of its value. That will certainly limit the competitiveness of many aspects of our workforce.
    Grace

    • Andrea Lowder

      I agree, we must get on track with this technology!! I too realized how far behind I am, and if we want to reach our students in a positive, creative way in which they will succeed, we must get on board!!

  • Jonathan

    David,
    It takes a village to raise a child. Every supporter of a child’s success has a focus all hopefully with the best interest of that child in mind. The trees are as important as the forest. That being said investing in the wrong tools will not lead to the success of the child. Are we trying to give children a successful future in the world we live or just help the valued educators pass the student to the next level by meeting the standards of government agencies.

  • Kathryn Grady

    David,
    I also agree that we have to keep up with the times in which we live and we have to keep our children up to speed with technology to give them all the best opportunities. However, I do see some negatives in pushing technology to take the place of the pencil and paper. The basic skill of penmanship has become a lost art in the current generation. Simple things such as taking the time to write a thank you note. A very personal, hand written note is still the most genuine way to thank someone. Everyone’s typing looks the same, writing is an individual art. My children rarely think of writing anything. They are also very poor at grammar due to their text communications that don’t require spelling or grammar. Cell phones have caused me to lose my ability or need to remember anyone’s phone number. I don’t even know the number for the cell phones of my children. If my cell phone fails, I would not know how to contact them. This, to me is an example of technology taking over human ability. We just need to balance the advances without losing ourselves. Technology is never without the possibility of failure and we need to be ready to pick up where a failure of technology may leave us.

    • Jonathan

      Kathy,

      The essentials to live in a civilized society do seem to be getting left behind and are traded for the skills needed to live in a technologically advanced society. If you look back through time examples of skills that were needed at one time to survive have fallen by the way side to be replaced by new skill sets needed for survival. Balance is still important but in coming years may become less essential and more extracurricular. That being said, the basics must still be mastered before moving to advanced means of communication and this can be accomplished through advanced technology. It is scary to consider the failure of technology when we are so heavily reliant on it.

    • Grace Hubbard

      Kathyrn,
      The point you make is one I think about often. An example for me is the availability of electronic books. I like to hold a book in my hand and read. I get tired of sitting in front of the computer (even though it is a laptop and I can move around). Some classes now use e-books. It is just not fun to read books that way for me.

      On the other hand, how do we view the changes and “progress”. We can hold tightly to “our ways”, our beliefs about how things need to be done. We certainly can’t keep all the old and add all the new! It is common knowledge people can be resistant to change. I have been very resistant to much of the informational technology. This class has opened my eyes. There will be much I learn about that I don’t use, but I no longer am so uninformed and judgmental about its existence.

      The URL below is one I ran across in our reading somewhere. It is entitled “The Medieval Book”. I found it so humorous, and it was a lesson for me as it depicted how I felt trying to learn new technology.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFAWR6hzZek

      Grace

      • Wendy Hartley

        Grace,

        That youtube video is hilarious. I am surprised I have not seen it before. I’m passing it on.
        Thanks for a good laugh!!!

        Wendy

    • Julie West

      Kathryn,
      The simple things do seem to be disappearing. I am one that still loves the written notes, etc. My staff get handwritten notes from me at times. Prior to my grandmother dying, I had her handwrite her name on a mat for my wedding picture just so I would have something personal of hers: it belongs to no one else. If that were now, most folks wouldn’t want to hand write it, they would want to type it out. I don’t have children, but my memories that I preserve now, I try to handwrite on the page so whenever I do have children, they will have that personal piece of me.
      We do need to balance out the advances. Individuals are smarter, and innovations are on the rise, but we need not forget the simple things in life.

    • Shannon

      Kathryn, I see your points and I do realize they are realities. I have trouble sometimes without using spell checker. I find myself setting frustrated when having to hand write something instead of typing it. I also text with poor grammer.

      I think we must look at things globally, the way of the future is paperless. While it may give us advances in some respects, there will be other things that are lost in the process. I am imagining people who used to walk to work or church and people who used to stay home all day on Sundays or only go to the store on rare occasions. Life was more relaxed and laid back than it is today. Advances in industry have allowed us to drive or fly anywhere we want to go at any time. We can shop online or in stores any day or time of the week.

      While these changes may have caused us to rush through our lives more and stay busier, they have also given us comforts that I could not live without now.

      I see the positive and negative sides of this spectrum

      Shannon

    • Carolyn Park

      Kathryn,
      I agree that technology is becoming a major part of our everyday life, both good and bad. As you mention, it is beginning to replace some of the most basic fundamental skills such as penmanship,grammar, and social interactions. For example, teachers are complaining that their students are turning in essays with internet slang terms and expression such as lol, omg, and smiley face :) . Also, people are texting instead of talking to one another. These changes are disturbing and we need to start realizing the importance of balancing the use of technology in our lives or else we will suffer the consequences.

      • Sarah Blue

        So true, Carolyn. Your comments brought me back to the article you posted about multitasking. It’s no wonder that we are driven to multitask, these days. The detrimental effects of multitasking could certainly qualify as one of the consequences!

    • Deborah Sutton

      Great post Kathryn, I love technology and often wonder what I would do without it, but there are definitely some things we are losing because of it. I just had an oh my god moment when you said you did not know your kids cell phone numbers because I don’t either and you are so right-how would we contact them! My kids can be texting their friends when they are sitting next to each other. I think my daughter is actually addicted to it. It almost seems like a type of withdrawal if she cannot have her phone and text (not call) her friends. I was hesitant for many reasons to even give her a phone-thinking she would lose it, but never that phone is very important to her she is very responsible for keeping up with it, her school assignments, well that is another story . . .

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Kathryn,

      I agree with what you say here. But I would revise, just slightly (and significantly), one of your statements. You say that technology is “a tool.” I would say that technology is “THE tool.” It is not just the tool for teaching and learning. But information and communication technology is the tool for all information endeavors. Information is increasingly networked, digital, and abundant, and to access, work, and communicate information, we need the appropriate technologies.

      That said, and in response to the conversation you have sparked, I see no reason to put technology up against the traditional values of our society. It’s not high-tech society up agains traditional society. It just that we are doing information differently and much much more effectively. The Internet and digital content have had an impact on society. But it’s a matter of adapting, and choosing.

      Thanks so much for continuing the conversation.

  • Shannon

    School systems are experiencing changes in technology. Public school systems are facing some of the worst times financially. They are at the minimum with functional staffing and one of the things that is being cut from our systems is technology specialists. Technology specialists are being let go in favor of training certified teachers to implement technology in the schools. I wish that more people would embrace technology in the workplace. I could not imagine going back to the days when we were not able to share information easily to those with a need to know.

    • Kelly T.

      Shannon,

      To your point, I wish that more people would embrace technology. Without a solid background in technology, our kids will be lost in the future. I have read some good points on this blog and for some I sense the overall feeling is if the basics are lacking (i.e. paper, and pencils) then what good is technology? I would like for us to consider that during this day and time, perhaps technology is part of the basics as well. If we want our children to remain competitive in the future then we must have forward thinking in terms of technology in the school setting. Lastly, technology can also help students explore the world beyond the classroom, by having accesses to resources that are not available within their physical grasp.

      • shannon

        Kelly,

        I agree that technology is now a part of the basics. You were correct that a solid background in technology increases our students ability to succeed in the future.

    • Wendy Hartley

      Shannon,

      I do not have children in the school but I cannot see how removing technology specialist would benefit the school system or teachers. I often rely on tech specialist to help trouble shoot issues and implement new technology. Although I agree with training teachers in the use & implementation of software applications rarely are they skilled in mastering technological difficulties in applications and hardware.

  • Shannon

    How can schools put goals like creating 21 century students/learners and have states that support those goals on paper when the federal government is doing the exact opposite by de-emphasizing technological importance.

  • Carolyn Park

    I agree that we should recognize the importance of technology as a tool in teaching/learning, especially in our current technological advanced times. Currently, I am a student taking online courses and appreciate the convenience and flexibility it offers me. However, technology itself doesn’t always mean better education if the teaching style is ineffective. Thus, it is important that the teachers are being taught to use technology to their advantages in order to teach students effectively.

    • Shannon

      Carolyn, I agree with you. Technology is only as good as the person using it or teaching about it. I am thinking in particular of the mimeo. To some, it seems useless because they have not been taught about how to use it. Good professional development is key to the functional ability of some technological advances.

      • Kim Stanbery

        I remember when I was in 5th grade, early 1980′s, and learning to use carbon paper to create a duplicate copy for a history paper. I thought that was technology. I remember being so frustrated when I made a grammatical error. I had to start the whole paper over again, because it needed to be perfect. Now I can hit backspace and just retype, or use my spell check. The advancements in the last 20 years are phenomenal. I truly believe that today’s students need to be taught using the latest technology and that funding should go towards purchasing equipment and programs that will enable this teaching. Virtual and interactive classrooms could have the power to teach more students at one time, and require less teachers.

        However, when students go home, and they do not have personal computers because their parents can’t afford them, what happens? When there isn’t a teacher available to help a student with learning disabilities, because the state cut funding, what happens? What happens when little Johnny fails school because the class size was so large that the teacher was oblivious to his disruptive and abusive family life.
        My point is, technology can not take the place of human interaction. Even though our children may be more prepared for their future if taught how to use the latest and greatest in technology, they will begin to lack spirit, creativity, and passion with out the role models of our teachers. If technology fails, can you rely on yourself?

        • Shannon

          Kim,

          You are right. Technology is fast paced and changes rapidly. School s have to work hard to make sure that the investments they make now will be equipment they can use for as long as possible before it requires updating. I know that we looked at the mini laptops at one point and got a few of them but they were not feasible for everyday use in the capacity that we needed so we moved away from those. All principals have tablet PC’s which are great for use in schools, meetings, classrooms, etc.

    • http://uncc.edu sreagan

      Technology is a part of life whether we embrace it or try to stay away from it. Teachers must be included in this world to prepare future leaders. If they are not, the student will really be teaching the teacher.

    • Kathryn Grady

      Carolyn,
      I agree, the issues with technology are just as big an issue to the instructors. I believe it must be a big stress to educators that have been around as computers have evolved and everyday there is something new to learn. Educators already have so much more work than they do time, and having to learn new technology for teaching must just add more stress and possible dissatisfaction for them.

      Kathy

    • Deborah Sutton

      I completely agree Carolyn that technology is a tool in learning and teaching. Due to my long work hours, being a single mom, and a whole host of other responsibilities I would never be able to complete graduate school. Having the flexibility to complete assignments when it is convenient for me is invaluable!

  • Wendy Hartley

    The importance of technology in the education of our children and ourselves cannot be under estimated. Technological advancements have lead to the economic boom of the last decade. The ability to communicate, negotiate, and evaluate ideas on the same level is key to one’s personal, professional and societal success. Limiting the use or training in the fields of technology will not leave one child behind; it will leave us all behind.

  • Rich Tobin

    I’m afraid what is considered equitable for our school system might add an extra household stressor for parents already dealing with a strapped budget. How could we provide “equitable access” for all?

    • Wendy Hartley

      Unfortunately, I do not believe IT access is equitable for all. Policies may be created with all in mind but actually effect some and hopefully most. It was not my intent to focus on the US school system at home per se but how we in the US create and implement policies that affect our ability as a nation to interact with the rest of the world.

  • Holly

    I think education should be a blend of technology and paper and pencicals. As a society we have become very dependent on tehonology so it is essential for children to be well versed in utilizing technology. However, we also must teach them to use old fashioned methods such as writing by hand and calculations by hand. It is important for children to be able to reap the valuable benefits of technological advances, however, not all school systems will have computers for all children.

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Holly,

      I might agree with you that there is still a place for pencil and writing by hand. But I have to ask, “Why?” In a way, it’s kind’a like saying, “Ok, my child can learn to use papyrus. But I think it’s important that he continue to know how to carve letters in stone.” Information has changed and we are very rapidly approaching a time where virtually all the information you need, on a daily basis, to accomplish your daily goals, will be networked and digital.

      You say,

      we also must teach them to use old fashioned methods such as writing by hand and calculations by hand. It is important for children to be able to reap the valuable benefits of technological advances, however, not all school systems will have computers for all children.

      I think that they problem is not, how do I teach children in schools that do not have contemporary information and communication technology? The problem is, what are we going to do with graduates 5, 10, 12 years from now who are paper-literate, but not information literate.

      Just to let you know where I’m coming from, as I make presentations, I try, at all costs, to avoid using the word technology. I think its the information that has changed. It’s because of technology, but we must be helping our students learn within a networked, digital, and abundant information environment — and there is no excuse for any school in the United States in 2010 not doing that.

      • Jonathan

        David,
        You make a great observation in it as not as much that our students can do but can they understand what everyone else is doing? The allocation of funding is a problem no matter if you buy pencils or apples(computers). If society does not value keeping up with the rest of the world no matter where the money is spent we will be building space shuttles to get to Mars while other countries are building cities on Mars.

  • Andrea Lowder

    I too feel that technology is rapidly increasing, however are the school systems ready to keep up with it. With the horrific budget cuts, and over 500 teacher positions in Mecklenburg county alone facing the “pink ticket”, how will the technology be beneficial. Will computers be teaching our children? Will technology replace the human touch? I feel that technology is ever important, but our children need the “true” teacher in the classroom also. Being a “online” directed student, I feel that the education is very complete, however I am still with the old time classroom type setting and find that sometimes being able to “raise” your hand and have questions answered up front is comforting.

  • Carolyn

    We need to have the fundamentals such as adequate teaching staff and basic supplies such as pencils, pens, papers, etc. but we also need to continue to advance and provide our kids with the most cutting edge tools and knowledge; there needs to be some form of balance. I think we need to find a way where we can keep that important human connection and face to face contact that is present in the classroom while also teaching children the importance of technology and preparing them for a future where technology is all around us. Technology is ever evolving, and there are some excellent educational resources out there as a result of technology. There is something to be said for that personalized thank you note or in class discussion but there is also something be said for having technology at your fingertips giving you access to the most current up to date information.

  • http://uncc.edu sreagan

    It is imperative that our children are technologically proficient. This includes adults becoming more technological proficient-even if they have to ask the children for help…

  • Heather McArthur

    Although technology has negative points as mentioned by others previously, I believe educators are going to need to emrace technology more than has been done in order to compete with global demands. Technology skills are the fundamentals of the jobs of the future. ‘No Job Left Behind’ may not be perfect but I believe the idea that no American Children are left behind should be a priority for all parents of a school age student. Pen and paper will eventually be replaced with laptops, microsoft word, excel spreadsheets, google docs and many other software programs that are yet to be invented. Classroom experiences will change from students sitting in desks reminiscent of the 1800 one room school house~ to students using webcams and learning from internet classrooms in the comfort of their homes. The ‘traditional’ 8-230 M-F school week September-June will eventually be replaced with grade-syllabus and text quizzes that can be completed 24/7. The education system has been slow to respond to technology and in times of giant budget crunches in my opinion needs to work smarter and not harder to determine ways to remain competitive. The cirriculum is going to need to change as well. Is it as important for children to learn the prelude to canterbury tales or is it more important to learn how to create formulas in an excel spreadsheet?
    American edcation system is badly broken and part of the problem is todays students are smarter than ever before, and have more information at their ‘fingertips’ than ever before. In years past, the only way to learn about the Civil War was to read it in text books; today, you can do an internet search and find out everything in seconds. We are failing our students and they are being ‘left behind’.

    • Carolyn Park

      Heather,
      I agree that the school system should work smarter and not harder to teach students effectively while at the same time being cost efficient. I remember when our U.S economic was in a crisis mode that some of the federal/state government and other private companies were changing their 7 days a week work schedule to 4 days a week which save them tons of money on utilities. Also, the benefits were extended to workers who enjoy their days off to be with families, save on daycare cost, and or run errands. Some reported that the changes has brought increase productivity and satisfaction among workers. So, you can imagine what it can do for our school systems if we can just think outside the box. Wouldn’t it be cool to learn outside the traditional classroom/school building into the real world settings. Learn biology via volunteering at clinic or history by touring to museums/historical sites, ect. That is what I call an ultimate hands on/interactive learning experience.
      -Carolyn Park

    • Kim Stanbery

      You say: Is it as important for children to learn the prelude to canterbury tales or is it more important to learn how to create formulas in an excel spreadsheet?

      Yes, I say. Literature, history, and other liberal studies is what makes us a little more well-rounded. If students are never taught about literature, then where will our future writers come from, who will inspire them. There will always be those students that excel in left brained activities, but it must also be balanced with those that contribute to the arts.

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  • Sharon

    I have a great appreciation for science, technology and math so I am excited that students will be taught these subjects as a blend. This will prepare them for careers that will require various forms of math and science in the next decade as they compete on a global scale.

  • atwalden

    Teaching Middle School who has an abundance of technological
    resources, I go back and forth on this subject. First of all, cutting all technology classes
    isn’t always the best options. Here is why, at the middle school levels, we
    have kids who come in from several feeder schools. Some kids know how to do things like basic
    typing and formatting, others who have no idea.
    Kids need basic skills at the elementary level, that should be a “common
    core” on its own if it really is going to be the “pencil-paper” of our
    time. However, teachers are still trying
    to balance pencil-paper as well because that too is a necessity. I also see how staring at those computers for
    6 hours a day can change them. I am lucky to say I teach electives classes
    and I try not to always use the computers. They need to learn to interact with each
    other face to face, have those communication skills to be able to be ‘future
    ready’.

    I agree with the need to include it in our curriculum to stay
    current on a global level; however, the new trend word is STEM. STEM is not what technology is about. I love that you mention that it needs to
    cover every area. We need to teach our
    students to use it in various facets. To
    be knowledgeable and current about technology doesn’t mean that you have to be
    an engineer or a mathematician.

    The last issue that I always think about goes back to
    teaching to the test. Staying current
    and up to date with technology and integrating into our curriculum that can
    help our students be 21st century ready again gets pushed aside due
    to the amount of time teachers have to put in to teaching to their state tests. Test scores aligned with evaluations will
    make it hard for teachers to thoughtfully use technology to better student
    learning.


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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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