Heidi Hayes Jacobs

President

Rye, NY

Interests: 21st century learning,...

  • Posted 2 Years ago
  • 6.3k

Against Technology (the word)

Ubiquitous in every sphere of education; the word “technology” is splattered loosely.    No subliminal messaging here, the term is to mean that schools with wifi, tablets, one to one laptop programs, and  smart boards are preparing students for the future.   Simply having a computer doesn’t mean that the curriculum and instruction are contemporary and relevant.    Students can be using the internet to research irrelevant and dated content. A word processor does not ensure quality writing competence.    When a group of middle school students runs around campus with flip cameras, it is unlikely they will produce a first rate documentary.    Perhaps there is some kind of magical thinking, that digital tools will prompt innovative outcomes.   I share this concern as a firmly committed advocate for the modernization of learning opportunities.    

 Most telling is our current obsession with dated assessment forms.  Teachers are not encouraged to innovate when their institutions are pushing time traveling to the past.  Although mission statements are packed with phrases like “tomorrow’s school” and “careers of the future” and “global preparedness”, the truth is that all fifty states in my country value assessments that are basically identical in format to those used thirty years ago.   Multiple choice, short answer essay prompts to de-contextualized paragraphs are the raison de vivre.   Some national publishers are creating on-line testing, but the items are still the same type as those used when standardized testing first was developed.    Certainly our learners need ACCESS to the global portals and dynamic applications available through digital media in order to become literate and connected, but access is insufficient. 

We should pay attention to school faculties, leaders, and individual teachers who are actively and boldly upgrading curriculum content to reflect timely issues and problems and crafting modern assessments such as digital-media-global project based learning opportunities.   Website curation, app design, global network research, and video/audio production are indicative of modern learning environments not only for students but for their teachers as well.    What might happen if in our discourse we replace the loose use of the word technology with the phrase contemporary learning environments?  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

Heidi is the author of many books with ASCD including Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World.    She is currently working on a new book with her colleague, Marie Alcock, on A New Kind of Teacher; A New Kind of School.   Her recently four book series with Solution-Tree on Contemporary Perspectives on the New Literacies explores many of the ideas from this blogpost.  You can contact Heidi via her website:  Curriculum 21 

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