About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A new way to conceptualize teaching for the 21st Century?

Ken Allen and I have had an interesting conversation going on his blog. He has a great post about what we need to do in the 21st century to teach technology skills, which was pretty much what we should have been doing in the last century. Namely, students need to understand the "concept" of technologies, they need training (what I would call mentoring as he uses the cognitive apprenticeship model as a basis for the post), and practice. He contends (and I agree) that most instruction today focuses on the training, leaving out the concepts and the practice.

My last comment was:

My point was that by just teaching the "skills" of a technology we aren't teaching the students to learn the "affordances" of a technology.

In my experience, students come to new things initially with creativity. Facebook and myspace became what they were because users could use it in any way that met their needs. This is happening with twitter. When we "teach" a technology, however, we tend to destroy thMis creativity because we say "use this technology this way." Often my kids will say to me, "You can't do that with X technology. We were taught you have to do it THIS way."

We need to have a new approach where students are taught the concepts of how any technology can be applied (i.e. for computing, for communication, for editing, for visualization, etc...) then allow them to practice those concepts using a wide variety of technologies. To do this, the instructor needs to change his or her mind set from "teaching the technology" or teaching "technology skills" to a deeper level of analysis.

In fact, I think this is true of all teaching. We focus on the "training" so that students will pass the assessments, but gloss over the concepts so students don't understand why they are doing what they are doing, and don't give them enough practice in multiple contexts to allow them to gain a deep understanding and familiarity with what they have learned. In the last case, especially, students need to formulate the boundaries of new concepts.

1 comment:

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Virginia!

I've had to think long and hard about how to reply to this post. The post you refer to is about what the teacher learns about technology use. That use by the teacher is often muddied by a pedagogical intention to utilise what's learnt by the teacher in teaching the same to students.

I prefer to keep these areas of learning separate for a number of reasons.

While it is true that the student needs to learn some things about technology, what's learnt by the student may not necessarily overlap much of what the teacher needs to learn about technology use.

For instance, though I may find it useful to know how to link to an image on a server in the html of a page on a VLE, I do not expect my students to understand or know anything about this facility - one that I see simply as a teaching tool, rather than an affordance that can be passed on to the student.

If the student needs to know how to correctly label and deposit a digital assignment file in a drop-box, however, then this is a process the student may need to be shown and to practice. But when the elearning in a subject becomes so technical for the student that the e comes before the learning or may even eclipse it entirely, both teacher and student lose sight of the subject.

I have always believed that the teaching/learning medium must be transparent. The conduit for delivery has to be freely accessible so that its e does not come in the way of the student's learning.

Let's forget about the e.
Let's just have the learning.

Catchya later