5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending (in education)

Source: http://goo.gl/Id9HMe

This weekend as I was on Twitter, I ran across a blogging challenge called “5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending” in education to #makeschooldifferent. It was passed along by educator Jay Greenlinger (@JayGreenlinger) to five teachers in his PLN. After publishing their posts, they were asked to pass the challenge to five other educators. Here are two other educators I follow on Twitter who took the challenge of responding to the prompt: Nancy Minicozzi (@CoffeeNancy) (read blog post) & Alice Chen (@WonderTechEdu) (read blog post).

How can we #MakeSchoolDifferent? Here are five beliefs I think we should change:

  1. If we give students access to technology, they will use it well as a tool in their academic and personal lives. They don’t need instruction on technology skills.
  2. If we give teachers access to interactive technology tools (hardware, Learning Management Systems, Google Apps for Education, etc.), they will transform their pedagogy to a more student-centered approach.
  3. The focus of literacy is learning how to read and analyze informational text.
  4. Teachers focusing on Professional Learning that centers on their content areas will make the connection with technology in teaching and learning.
  5. We can prepare our students well for success in college/careers using PowerPoint slides, lectures, and videos.

Like Alice Chen, I’m going to go beyond the challenge by responding to each item.

  1. Educators often make the mistake of thinking because students can navigate around the web as consumers, that they are knowledgeable about how to research, evaluate information, curate and share sources, and synthesize information into various products. This mistaken belief also leads to thinking students are aware of the effects of their social media use (digital footprint/tattoo) on their present and future.
  2. My experience is that most teachers, without modeling and instruction, will NOT change their instructional approaches when given digital tools. Some teachers are more naturally lifelong learners who push themselves to grow in their use of technology. They allow their own learning to be messy in front of their peers and students. Having shiny tools does not necessarily lead to competent use.
  3. Some think that literacy in the CCSS emphasize students being able to read and analyze informational text. However, that is a tiny piece of literacy. The question needs to be asked, “What is literacy?” and more importantly, what is “information literacy” and “digital literacy”. Alice Chen summarized these in a poster that I think is very helpful (see below #5). Check out also, the “Model School Library Standards for California Public Schools” to see what information literacy looks like. The reality is that unless we intentionalize information/digital literacies, it will be hit or miss across the curriculum.
  4. Teachers are so used to focusing on content, they don’t think, “What approaches and digital tools would help my students access content, collaborate with other students in the learning process, and demonstrate learning?” Administrators sometimes make the mistake in not asking teachers to go to trainings that actually focus on the application of technology in their subject area (Ex. CUE, Edcamps, etc.). I would guess that most don’t know what the SAMR Model is and how it relates to teaching and learning. Teachers need to see how digital tools can be used and have hands-on practice doing so. Otherwise, most will continue to focus on the content of the CCSS and doing what they’ve always done, without taking into account how the Depths of Knowledge apply to the integration of technology across the curriculum.
  5. The basic problem with constantly relying on Powerpoints, lecture, and videos for instruction is that it relies on students passively taking in the information the teacher/video provides. It’s teacher-centered and the teacher-voice. Just because students take notes, take tests, and write essays doesn’t mean they are learning how to learn. Neither are they learning to research, present, argue, and defend what they know. Giving students guided instruction in research and collaborative activities (including online discussions) using a Learning Management System (Haiku LMS, Google Classroom, Edmodo, etc.) provide a platform for teachers and students to connect with each other and content in ways not previously possible.

So, what do you think are five things we need to stop pretending in education to make school different?

9 C's of Digital Literacy