It’s amazing to think that a year ago, when I started my graduate diploma, (on my path to an Interdisciplinary Med) I hadn’t written a paper in over 20 years since my first degree. Even though our first on campus course was in the same building, it looked very different from the place I spent many hours in during the early 90s. Computers, wifi, projectors, laptops – technology was everywhere. In my first degree, I took a course about technology that basically taught us to program a little turtle that moved around called Logo.
20 years ago, I did not imagine school/university would look like this. What will our classrooms and education look like for students in 20 years? How can we prepare our students for jobs that have not yet been created? What skills do we need to teach our students in order for them to become strong, creative and critical thinkers?
A shift from thinking about technology as something to “teach” to technology as something to assist our learning has occurred. In our summer course, Brenda Dyck came as a guest speaker and quoted Dr. Judy Harris who said, “please remember it’s not about how we use the TOOLS, it’s how we USE the tools.” In further learning TPACK was introduced. Punya Mishra has written about what teachers should think about when planning. Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge and Technical Knowledge and the importance of thinking about all three areas when planning for learning experiences.
This generation of students have been referred to as “digital natives” by Marc Prensky. These young people have never grown up without technology, they have had access since they were very little. Although we might assume their skills should be strong with creating content, researching and manipulating photos, many of these students are lacking basic skills within these areas. One area I have found my grade 5 students are lacking in is digital citizenship. Throughout our spring course, my understanding and knowledge of digital citizenship grew immensely. Mike Ribble defines it as, “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use”. (2013) For most students, this topic needs to be directly addressed as they are working through projects that utilize technology. One area I have lots of work to do with my grade 5 students is around copyright and using photos they find on the Internet. They have not yet grasped the idea that these graphics and photos were created by someone who needs to be acknowledged. I will begin our year in September working through Ribble’s Nine Elements.
People now have access to information wherever they are. Many of my students have mobile devices that they bring to school regularly. Our school board has opened up a section of wifi that allows them to log in while at the school. BYOD has allowed our school to purchase more technology to support those students that do not have their own. Students are more familiar with their own devices and often ask to use them to document their learning. They are able to quickly research an answer to questions they have ‘anytime, anywhere’.
What will future technologies bring to our learners? How as teachers can we prepare our students for their future? What skills and knowledge do we need to make sure they are gaining? How can we make sure they leave our classrooms being critical thinkers, inquirers, and problem solvers?
I still have many questions; this group of courses has caused me to reflect on not only what my students currently need, but also how to adequately prepare them for a future of unknowns. My practice has changed as I routinely think about the TPACK model when planning for upcoming projects and curricula. I look forward to my new set of courses which I am sure will also challenge my thinking about program and how best my students learn.
Alberta Ed BYOD information: Alberta Education (2012). Bring your own device: a guide for schools. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/admin/technology/research.aspx
Prensky, Marc. (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-2. Retrieved from: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf
Ribble, M.S, Bailey, G.D, Ross, T.W., 2004, Digital Citizenship, Addressing Appropriate Technology Behaviour., Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1).
TPACK information: http://tpack.org/