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Jun 18 / Justin

Focusing on What’s Important


I think we are really in a time of tumult when it comes to technology in education (well education in general really as it is really meaningful to talk about one without the other?). I don’t have any single article to back me up on this but the general trend I’m seeing is more and more people talking about the need to educate our students with the digital skills to work and thrive in the 21st Century. We have been saying for a long time that “its not about the technology.” Thats usually code for “Learning about technology is not the important thing, its a tool that we use to (fill in the blank)”. This is still true up to a point. However, I also think this “truism” of ed-tech is also very dangerous and if followed too strictly could cause us to miss some giant things happening around us. The funny thing is we say the same thing about about almost any subject area in school. For example – at a certain point biology is not “about the biology” but really more about “thinking like a scientist.” However, we still structure learning/courses around content areas and as long as we do so I think we’ll be caught to some extent of thinking about technology as a means to and end rather than a potential end in itself.

Students that are fluent and confident in digital tools to think and create will be in a much better position to thrive in the world now being created. We have talked a lot about looking hard at curriculum to de-emphasize content and whilst we have done so in some ways how serious have we been about being intentional about the things that supposed do matter – soft skills and media skills (or new media literacies)

This is “old” now but in my mind still captures it really well

How many schools purposely plan and structure learning about learning these important skills? Most often we about about our programs being “aligned” with them, or that teachers address them whilst teaching core subjects. This strikes me as really odd. In what other human endeavor would we spend so little time and energy on being purposeful about doing what we think is most important?

We need to redefine what it means to be literate and actually change schooling to reflect that.

The plain fact of the matter is the world is being remade by and with technology.

Case in point

The individuals that are behind this revolution do so with profoundly deep digital skills. These are not skills that they attained “using technology” to reach traditional “core” academic subjects. If we keep doing that we’re not going to graduate students that are “doers” in the modern technology landscape. Well, not on purpose anyway.