As I read through the online edition of the Sacramento Bee (sacbee.com) I came across this article that talked about the need for technology education in the classroom. In the article, it discusses how California, home to Silicon Valley, has one of the lowest performing groups in technology use. Students don’t know how to use the technology and access to it. I can only guess why, since I teach in California - on my campus Math and Reading...Math and Reading - that’s it.
When you visit the computer lab, there is Lexia, a program that teaches Reading skills, that we must use. Create a project in PowerPoint? Train teachers to use the technology that we have purchased? Are you crazy? How will that help Math and Reading? This is ultimately what led to my Action Research Project choice since I had fifth graders coming to me not knowing how to find their way around a computer, unless the items were on the desktop and the name of the program was Lexia. Stepping down from the soapbox and moving back to the article...
The article also stated two other very interesting items. The first is that the U.S. Department of Education will be requiring students to demonstrate technological literacy in the 2010-2011 school year (leaving me to wonder how that is going to go). I am excited about this prospect because hopefully, elementary students will have to take this test and we can actually start teaching the skills they need and also because California is finally looking at developing a plan for technology instruction. Something that will no doubt be intense, but it will clearly define what we believe technology instruction should look like.
The other item that I found very interesting is that the article also states how many business leaders in California state that students are not prepared to compete in 21st Century digital workplaces. I have talked to my high school students about their Computer classes there and have been told that they are a joke. That students are left to their own devices many times and that they just learn to type. This concerns me because again, many of the items that they need to learn how to do need to be taught to some degree. Sure, we can leave them with the computer and some will learn to create items in Word or PowerPoint, but who is teaching them to actually present the material, or collaborate across the internet in groups? After being in EMDT I feel I can, which is why I applied for a job in the district I work in for the Computer Applications class at the high school - something I probably never would have considered doing if I hadn’t been going through this degree program (or if I did I definitely would not have the 21st Century Skills I currently have because of the program).
Comment from Leslie Perry to Hardy Reeves
Absolutely! Bravo to you for applying to work teaching Computer Applications. You are so creative and engaging. I have the same experience when it comes to technology in the district overall but in my son’s school (and IB public magnet school), a former 5th grade teacher and now the new Media Specialist is helping to improve this. She is creative and open to adding new ideas. But the district policy is in the dark ages. And this lack of leadership leads to uneven teaching of technology across the grades. At the high school, students who do get the opportunity to blog (rare) can only do so within the firewall of the school eliminating one of the most important components of blogging – connecting with like-minded people across the globe.
I do wonder what the Department of Education will be testing students on for technology literacy. While I agree that this effort could force schools to teach more tech skills, I also am worried the bar will be so low that it won’t really be testing 21st century skills like what we have learned to use over the past year.