Driven

December 18, 2006 on 3:28 pm | In education, nycist, technology | No Comments

At the last NYCIST meeting, someone began a thought with, “We all accept that curriculum should drive technology use and not the other way around.” Heads nodded in agreement, and I found myself nodding along out of habit. He was only stating what for so long has been the bedrock of educational technology theory, especially in traditional independent schools. We’re not trying to change what you do; we’re just giving you new tools to add to you kit.

I’m sure I’ve said those very words in the past, but lately I’ve had the sense that the ground is starting to shift under our feet. Maybe we’re finally entering an age in which technology is developing in ways that can make it truly transformational for education. In certain subject areas, technology clearly does have a direct effect on curriculum. Computer Science, certainly. Science, sure. I could probably find examples from each subject, but perhaps the conversation we should really be having is the one about how technology affects pedagogy – not necessarily what we teach, but how we teach it.

The current buzz is the need to teach students 21st Century Skills. Time magazine even did a cover story on How to Build a Student for the 21st Century. But what exactly are those skills? They are not computer skills per se but are instead the skills required to stay afloat in a technology-rich, information-driven, global economy/community.

So it’s not about content and curriculum; it’s about managing time and information and relationships. Students need to learn to communicate and collaborate and innovate and connect and think critically, creatively, and holistically. They need to learn to access the incredible resources that technology makes available, which means that schools need give students the opportunity and training to tap into those resources.

Is the traditional classroom giving students the chance to learn these skills? Even at one-to-one schools like mine are we taking advantage of the incredible opportunity to turn learning into something more vibrant and participatory? How do we do make time for more exploration in learning and still continue to build the foundation of core knowledge that students need? What does the school of the future look like?

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