Skills for All Teachers

Yesterday, SEGA Tech commented on a post from Laura Turner through THE Journal, called Every Educator Should Possess these 20 Skills. Jeff, the author of the SEGA piece wrote:

know(ing) how to use technology and integrating technology in the classroom are two different things. What do you think?

I agree, Jeff, and I suspect that Laura would agree as well. Knowing how to use the technology only catches us up with our students. Taking the next step, one that is crucial to educating today’s children for their information-driven, technology-rich world, requires us to examine and reflect on how these various technologies affect our information environment. As I’ve said many times, it isn’t the technology that is impacting our lives, it is the information, and we have to come to grips with how the nature of information (shape of knowledge) is changing.

I want to take a few minutes and comment on Laura’s items. And I appoligize to Ms. Turner if it appears that I am taking exception with her very fine list. My intention is to continue her conversation.

  1. Word Processing Skills
    OK! What does it mean when anyone with a computer can produce written content with the assistance of word processing software. What does it mean that thousands of people today are making at least part of their income by selling books through the digital bazaars, books that would have had no buyers five years ago, authors with no voice — without the word processor.

  2. Spreadsheets Skills
    Math lives on. Kids must learn to add, subtract, count, and measure. The must understand the language of numbers. But are we teaching them to process thousands of numbers. Learning to use a spreadsheet is as critical as learning long division. No, it’s more critical.

  3. Database Skills
    Well, I honestly don’t know about this, because I don’t know what database skills are anymore. It was a pretty easy thing to wrap your mind around in the days of Microsoft Works, and the original AppleWorks. But who needs to know how to use Access? Not me. I do agree that people need to know how databases work in order to access databased digital resources. Students need to understand that the value of information increases when it is organized.

  4. Electronic Presentation Skills
    The key word here is presentation. As we become increasingly dependent on information, communication becomes an increasingly dependable skill. We acknowledge that a communication’s success depends, to a great degree, on the format of the information — the media. Students must learn to communicate with images, sound, animation, and video, at the same time that we are teaching them to write.

  5. Web Navigation Skills
    Information is a web today. Alphabetical orders no long rule how we organize information. It is the logical connections that form themselves into webs. It means that the answering of a basic question now requires an entire aray of higher-order thinking skills. Look to the exceptional work of Donald Leu and his team at The Literacy Web.

  6. Web Site Design Skills
    I would expand this to all information design. What we are learning about how information presents itself online, should be transfered to print as well. There are some basic rules for information design. But the bottom line is to present information in order to accomplish your goals.

  7. E-Mail Management Skills
    This is a good one. I would also include IM and teleconferencing content.

  8. Digital Cameras
    It is important to understand that cameras stopped being just cameras when they became digital. Think of a digital camera as an input device, a machine that assists us in collecting information (visual) in then importing that information into a computer where we can add value to it.

  9. Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
    OK, I suspect that there is something that needs to be known about networks. But networks will increasingly pass into the background as they become increasingly ubiquitous.

  10. File Management & Windows Explorer Skills
    Basically, we run our own digital libraries now. It’s our file structures. It is also our bookmarks, our RSS aggregators, and much more. We have much to learn from librarians.

  11. Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
    I do it all the time. Unfortunately, few schools allow it, for very good reason. It is part of keeping up and continuing to make our devices more useful as problem-solving, goal-achieving tools.

  12. Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
    Ask any 4th grader. 😉

  13. WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
    It doesn’t stop here. We have the ability to create digital content environments today and to invite people with similar interests in to study, discuss, solve problems, create products, or just to play.

  14. Videoconferencing skills
    A biggy. Presenting in front of a camera is different from presenting in front of an audience. I can vouch for that. It requires a different set of gestures, a different frame of voice, a different point of focus. I need some lessons here.

  15. Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs, etc.)
    All this as well as the next big thing. Hey, what happens when there is so much storage capacity that we don’t need networks any more. Think about it. Have you seen Safari Montage from Library Video Company?

  16. Scanner Knowledge
    Like digital cameras, it’s an input device. Capture information so that you can add value to it.

  17. Knowledge of PDAs
    As important as understand PDA is understand what the increased ubiquity of what is essentially superhuman intellegence mean to what, how, and why we teach.

  18. Deep Web Knowledge
    I’ve heard this referred to as the invisible web, though that is apparently an incorrect label. This relates back to using webs of information and knowing how to talk to a database.

  19. Educational Copyright Knowledge
    Hey, we’re all going to be information property owners. Ask your students to copyright (Copyright (c) by Johnny Anderson 2005) their work. Better yet, look into Creative Commons license.

  20. Computer Security Knowledge
    (See below)

What I see that’s missing? Obviously: blogging, Wikis, RSS, and aggregators, although they could be integrated into items that Laura did list.

The big obvious is ethics. Here last item, computer security, is critical. But what are we as educators doing to try to eliminate the need for security? Ethics and information, needs to be integrated into the curriculum.

I suspect that all 20 of Ms. Turner’s items could fit into one or more of four skills:

  1. Selecting and Accessing digital information.
  2. Processing digital information.
  3. Producing and communicating digital information.
  4. Ethical practices in using digital information.

Please do read Laura’s article. There is a wealth of content there as well as many valuable web links.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.