Essential Questions

March 6, 2008 on 11:15 am | In education, technology | 2 Comments

I’ve been rereading Heidi Hayes Jacob’s thoughts on the importance of essential questions in curriculum development. We’re currently in the throes of curriculum mapping at my school, so I was originally approaching the ideas from the perspective of my role as Computer Science department head.

As I read, however, I’ve realized that the points she makes are just as relevant if I don my other cap of technology director.

I’ve long had concerns about how schools have tended to approach technology. There has often seemed to be a buy-first, ask-questions-later mentality driving the process. I worry when schools invest in hardware, software, and infrastructure without a clear sense of how it’s going to be used or how it’s going to be supported. I’m not saying that everything needs to be planned ahead of time – the availability of the tools can certainly enable and inspire creative uses – but without thoughtful goals related to learning and teaching, educational technology so often seems to stop at word processing and e-mail.

With this in mind, I thought it would be a useful and interesting exercise to think about some essential questions related technology use in education. In no particular order:

  • At what age should student computer use begin in school? At what age is one-to-one appropriate?
  • Which computing platform(s) and why?
  • Is technology additive, instrumental, or transformational?
  • Is it important for schools to be “cutting edge”?
  • What skills should all students be learning? What role does technology play?
  • What would be the benefits of a computer programming requirement for all students? At what age should it begin?
  • To draw from a recent post by Sylvia Martinez, how can technology enable students to Create?
  • How do electronic communication and collaboration impact teaching and learning?
  • To filter or not to filter?
  • How do we tap the online tools students already use to create learning opportunities?
  • Social networks as learning networks: How do we make it happen?

Well, that’s a start. I hope others come up with more.

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