Controlling the Technology Curriculum
“The war between the digital natives and the digital immigrants is over, and the natives won.” (Marc Prensky in opening ISTE keynote). The statement points to technologies promise for student empowerment. Yet, just as in earlier eras when learning centers, project-based learning and differentiated instruction held such possibility, there is always a pull in the opposite direction.
Prensky got it right in the imagery of a “battle”. Those of us who believe in constructivist learning, need to leverage technology for this purpose. Alan November's workshops were all about this - empowering our students to construct their own knowledge. The other guys (top down educators) who were quite apparent in many of the packaged education technology solutions presented in the exhibition hall will use technology for their ends - skill based learning sells. To be sure, there is a role for skill based learning - but a limited one - one that is in the service of higher order thinking. But the natives will move on taking their learning outside of the classroom as they do now if school use of technologically reduces to skill-based learning only.
The ISTE conference was transformative for me in that it gave me the time, space and connections to reflect about these "big" technology issues. In the past, I would have sent only my technology teacher to a conference like this. Thank you Avi Chai for having the wisdom of sending a Head of School. I now can engage (and already have) my whole staff to think carefully about our technology goals for our students. I can envision a future and build capacity in the school to set us up for best practices in this area. This week, I sent an email to my parent body and my staff explaining Alan November's lesson about searching for credible sources on the internet. Although it is summer, I received more responses to that note than I have to most blogs and emails that I sent throughout the year to our community.
A few more thank yous are in order: Thank you for bringing the day schools together - it was always comforting to see and to chat with colleagues in what could have been a very overwhelming, impersonal experience. Thank you for orchestrating complicated food needs. Finally, thank you for making me into a tweeter, albeit a timid tweeter, but a tweeter nonetheless.