Friday, July 10, 2009

What Makes a Teacher "Technologically Literate"? Must All Teachers Be "Technologically Literate"?

Two questions have been floating around in my head this week: How can we determine whether a teacher is "technologically literate"? and Must all teachers be "technologically literate"?

The first question is the result of thinking about the second which was the central issue addressed in a post by Karl Fisch. In 2007, Karl Fisch, author of The Fischbowl and Director of Technology for Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado, posted an essay entitled "Is It Okay to Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?" His answer was: "If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write."

If we believe that all of our teachers must be, or rapidly become, "technology literate teachers", what is meant by that? I have posed this question to the students in the required educational technology class(EDM310) which I direct and teach (in part). I have asked them to respond in a wiki I have created called "techliterateteacher." I invite you to do so as well. If you have never used a wiki, follow the instructions that I have included on the first page of the wiki. The first page cannot be changed, but all others can be modified by any registered user. It is easy to register. A link is located on the upper left of the wiki.

Since the students in EDM310 are not "technology literate" when they begin the course (and probably not at the end of the course either), I have put together a series of videos, blog posts and other materials for them to read and watch as they seek to address the central question of what does it take to be a "technology literate teacher"? You may also find these materials beneficia. Currently they can be found in my EDM310 Class Blog for the Summer 09 semester but soon these materials will move to a blog of their own.

The second question, "Must all teachers be technologically literate?" seemed to me, at first, to be easily answered with a resounding "Yes!" But after some reflection, I now think it is a legitimate question which deserves serious consideration before I leap to an answer. So I invite you to ponder this question as well. Whatever our answer, I assure you that it is certain that all teachers will NOT become "technologically literate" in the near future. Maybe a better question would be "Should our goal be that all teachers become 'technologically literate'?"

So join me in thinking about these two questions. I have added an additional page on the wiki for the second question.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Letter to Editor Published

A shortened version of my response to Mr. Welsh was published on the editorial page of the USAToday on Monday June 29, 2009.

You can go to the link above to find my letter as well as one other published on the subject, or you can read my letter below.

Tech-ify classrooms
John Strange, Professor of Professional Studies, University of South Alabama - Daphne, Ala.

No one can stop the communications revolution. Not parents, not school rules, not punishment by teachers, not measures yet to be devised. So, let's look for the positives.

At least students are writing. In 1995, I wrote that we had entered a new era in which students were no longer reader/writers but listener/watchers. I urged teachers to find ways to get students to "write" with multimedia so that they contributed to the products being listened to and watched. That is beginning to happen.

Students are inventing a new language, which some don't like. But it is inventing, and it sets a context for discussions of creativity and language that provide a marvelous teaching opportunity — if we are prepared to take advantage of it.

So let's teach with technology. If we honor the use of new communication tools, we are much more likely to get cooperative students. But if we try to ban these devices, we will fail.

Teachers cannot teach the same way they taught five years ago. We have to rewrite our lesson plans and learn some new things (including texting). We have to learn from the students.

How exciting — we can be learners again, not just teachers.

Posted at 12:08 AM/ET, June 29, 2009 in Education - Letters, Letter to the editor