Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pencil Labs

The latest edition of Technology & Learning includes an article called, Teaching Tech Literacy to the MySpace Generation. In it, Chris Lehman, principal of Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy (a new high school) says:

We need to get away from the notion that computers are something we go use in a lab once a week. When was the last time we sent kids to a pencil lab?

Just because a kid knows how to use a computer and knows their way around the Internet doesn't mean they understand how it will transform them as students and learners. Every school should have kids asking, how does this technology change the way I'm a student, a learner, a citizen?

The point is that even though our kids are digital natives, that doesn't mean that they know how to effectively use technology as a tool to facilitate their learning.

Technology really does change everything. But, my concern is that we are assuming that our students know more about the technology than they really do. Are there features that promote learning (use of color, use of voice, writing tools built into Word, etc) that they need to have explicitly taught? I think so. And this blog will continue to address some of those features while promoting my conviction that technology tools help our struggling learners have access to the curriculum and demonstrate what they know. Inflexible media paper texts and paper/pencil tasks create too many obstacles for too many kids.

The technology is available. Let's use it but let's always remember that it also needs to be explicitly taught.