Saturday, May 23, 2009

Latest "Reading" - Treadwell, Freyer, Hargadon

The latest podcasts I have listened to have opened up some new ways of thinking about technology and education. Steve Hargadon has hosted some wonderful guests. His conversations with the guests and the audience are full of new ways to define the art of EDtech with a capital ED. He interviewed Mark Treadwell. They discussed the importance of creativity in education, creativity that includes depth of knowledge on the part of the learner. I appreciate the nod to basic knowledge. It is tough to be creative without basic skills. Literacy, numerancy, oral language, learning how to learn; these are important targets according to Treadwell.

He proposed a different set of competencies for students. The ability to:

  • Manage themselves
  • Think
  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Participate
He didn't go into these in depth. While they appear to be generic skills, these traits would be easy to incorporate into whatever we are doing. With an emphasis on them, we would certainly be more successful in developing good citizens. What a concept!

Wesley Freyer has offered a variety of peeks into schools and the way in which they are creating knowledge through digital storytelling. His Top 10 Reasons to be a Story Chaser providea good list of reasons to practice digital storytelling with students;
  1. Touch hearts and win over parents,
  2. Develop literacy skills,
  3. Develop critical thinking skills,
  4. Provide a window into learning,
  5. Preserve family and local history,
  6. Model constructive uses of digital and social media,
  7. Develop digital citizenship,
  8. Develop digital literacy and 21st century skills,
  9. Inspire creativity,
  10. Catalyze the learning revolution locally.
Given the early stage of our school district for technology adoption, I'd say we should make sure that our students understand digital citizenship and that we model constructive uses of digital and social media. Said a different way, we need to inform ourselves and our students about the rights and responsibilities of Internet use. This doesn't have to be the only focus and it doesn't have to be heavy handed. It means that as we introduce media tools for communication, we take time to understand the citizenship of it all.

Wesley does a great job of describing literacy. Fluency requires practice, reading should be a regular activity. He adds creation as a regular activity. Once teachers and students have skills in multimedia and collaboration, creation can be a more regular activity.

He doesn't just talk about communication. He models digital literacy with a steady stream of podcasts. He knows his gadgets too but doesn't let that dominate his message.

What is the significance of these ideas to our enterprise? I'd like to know:
  1. Are students given the opportunity to engage with technology - technology that isn't about the "stuff" but the process?
  2. Are students allowed to synthesize concepts and knowledge (higher Blooms)? This applies to all subjects not just technology.
  3. Are students ethical users of technology? How well grounded are students in scholarship and the ethics of information use.
  4. Are students safe and secure on the Internet? Do they know how to keep their identity private?
Many of these questions are not within my control. Some would say they are none of my business :-) as I am just the Technology Director. Nonetheless, I think it is fair to say that preparing students to employ technology isn't only about technology. Learning to learn with technology (another emphasis of Treadwell's) is about learning to learn period. It just so happens that technology affords great resources learn.