What are the most critical technology skills for students to learn? We recently asked our readers this question, and here’s what they had to say.
From having the courage to experiment with different technologies to possessing online literacy, readers said being a tech-savvy student in the 21st century is about much more than learning how to use a certain software program or device—it’s about being able to adapt to what’s constantly changing.
The sad reality is that most schools still believe that they are “teaching with technology” because they have a computer lab where they teach students important skills like word processing and how to create Power Point presentations. This may have been a worthwhile skill to teach 15 years ago, but the fact that we haven’t adapted as technology has is a clear example of how slow schools are to respond to the changing needs of our students.
Today’s technology provides the opportunity for students to access endless amounts of information on any topic taught in our schools. It’s no longer about who has the most information in their heads, it’s about who can find that information the fastest and who can do something with the information that they find. If we truly want to prepare our students for the future they will live in, we need to teach them how to find information and more importantly what to do with the information that they find. The only way to do this is to make the fundamental change from teaching how to use technology to using technology to learn.
Technology and education are pretty intertwined these days and nearly every teacher has a few favorite tech tools that make doing his or her job and connecting with students a little bit easier and more fun for all involved. Yet as with anything related to technology, new tools are hitting the market constantly and older ones rising to prominence, broadening their scope, or just adding new features that make them better matches for education, which can make it hard to keep up with the newest and most useful tools even for the most tech-savvy teachers.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the tech tools, including some that are becoming increasingly popular and widely used, that should be part of any teacher’s tech tool arsenal this year, whether for their own personal use or as educational aids in the classroom.
I can count on both hands — and probably even a few toes — the number of surveys I’ve encountered in recent months that attempt to capture how students, and often their parents, feel about the use of technology in schools.
Almost across the board, students and parents say they want more access to mobile applications and personalized instruction.
Of course, there’s another group of stakeholders who factor prominently into this equation: teachers. All of the smartphones and notebooks and tablets in the world mean very little unless teachers are prepared to use them effectively in class.
For the past 30 years, futurists, computer-software programmers, and entrepreneurs of all stripes have argued that the latest newfangled advances in technology would transform education into a more interactive and productive enterprise.
Until now, their predictions have largely fallen well short of the hype. But today, we really are on the verge of a watershed moment, when a new generation of Web-based tools could help assess the learning of each student while delivering personalized instruction that builds on specific strengths and addresses individual weaknesses. Unfortunately, if the nation—the education community, in particular—fails to embrace this new technology, we risk squandering an extraordinary opportunity to create a renaissance in teaching and learning.
How do we persuade the skeptics to stop worrying about the new teaching tools and learn to love education technology?
Search engines may make it easy to find information, but they don’t necessarily do the same for learning it.
That’s why the founders of social test prep startup Grockit want to re-configure online content such as YouTube videos, Wikipedia entries and ebooks into ordered lesson plans.
Their new product, Learnist, works a bit like a Pinterest for learning. Soon anyone (the capability is still invite-only at launch) will be able to compile content pieces onto a board or “learning.” A nifty bookmarklet makes it easy to collect content from other sites.
Unlike Pinterest, however, creators suggest a path in which to consume each content component. Users can check off each component as they go or “re-add” it to one of their own learnings.
Some substitute teachers say that technology provided by classroom teachers can help them facilitate learning. “The teachers [will] leave stuff on their computer, which goes directly to the SMART Board…,” said Susan May, a substitute. “You can go on the computer and pull up whatever they need you to. Those are really nice substitute days.”
For other substitute teachers classroom technology presents challenges – not being familiar with school policies and not being trained to use the devices.
How are your substitutes coping, and what are you doing to help?
Much like with toy cellphones, kitchenware and hardware tools, children under a certain age once played with toy computers to simulate the experience of working on the real thing. But in recent years, children as young as 2 and 3 years old have eclipsed the step of starting out with a toy version of a piece of technology and are now playing on iPads and other devices before they start kindergarten.
And with the rising fad of mobile devices, public schools are left to decide if the use of devices like iPads should be integrated into class curriculums. While some education officials praise the newer strategy for aiding learning, others claim devices like iPads have no place in the classroom.
Technology is the core element of 21st Century society; it mediates our communication, provides us with information, facilitates socialization, dominates our economy, and figures intimately into almost everything we do on a daily basis – except education. What is it about education that makes really powerful technological integration in the classroom so difficult? What should the 21st Century higher education classroom look like and how would a change to a technology-focused teaching environment alter education?
[Discusses four main obstacles to a full integration of technology in the higher education classroom; infrastructure/cost, lack of faculty technology know-how, a lack of inspiration, and institutional inertia.]
The iPad may only be two years old, but it’s already begun to change many things. Reading is one of them. Work is another. It is selling like crazy, but it will be some time before most of the people you know own a tablet.
The market for this type of device may only be in its infancy, but it’s already becoming clear how it will revolutionize certain aspects our lives. Education is a huge one, as recent developments have demonstrated.
In January, Apple made good on its late CEO’s vision to enter the digital textbook market with the launch of iBooks 2 and the iBooks Author production tool for e-books. That early effort was met with mixed reactions. While some were excited to see Apple move into a space that’s ripe for disruption, others pointed out the inherent limitations in Apple’s model, which for starters, will be cost-prohibitive for many school districts.