Technology and Curriculum
*This is a reflection post required for my JHU-ISTE Leadership program.
This post is being completed for the course “Curriculum Theory.” We have been exploring various curricular theories and programs, and this week we are to reflect on the following two questions:
* As a school administrator and instructional leader, what instructional technology would you expect to see in the written, taught, and tested curriculum of a school or school district striving to meet the needs of 21st century learners?
* What instructional technology would you promote to differentiate instruction for all learners?
The first question is certainly something I’ve discussed at length in the past. I don’t believe we should start with the technology first. I believe as a school district, we should first establish our learning goals, and then work to establish an ecology that helps us best meet our goals. I believe we’re past the point of teaching students specific technology competencies. I believe the technology is simply another option we choose to exercise when working to improve the learning experience for our students. I wrote about the way we started on this work in this post. I still believe this is the approach to take. Establish the institution’s vision for learning, and then find the way to build the resources needed around the vision.
Developing an environment that is rife with opportunity for students to learn and extend beyond the classroom is also growing increasingly important. This discussion about the spaces in which we learn by David Jakes is a way that I see technology moving beyond the focus on tools. The way the conversation is framed focuses entirely on how digital spaces and physical spaces merge to create an opportunity for students to engage the process of learning. In my opinion, this is the need of students today. Our mandate is to move the focus from teaching to learning, and then from the traditional means of learning to a more dynamic, individualized mode of learning that allows students to learn when and where they want outside of the classroom.
I believe creating such an environment will also provide the opportunity for students to differentiate the way they learn. By using ideas like the recorded lecture becoming the homework, we can then move the individualized transfer of learning in a classroom without taking up so much time with traditional instruction that leaves the collective intelligence of the classroom passively sitting and receiving information from a single source. Utilizing techniques like this with a combination of the physical and online environment means learning can become much more customized for students.
It is my honest belief that too often we approach technology backwards. We look at the tools, get excited, and work to shoehorn them into what is happening in the classroom. We focus more on the instruction rather than the learning. We get caught up in “Web 2.0 Whirlwinds” and “Tool Smackdowns” so that soon we misplace our focus on the tools and not what is taking place with the learning.
I absolutely believe in the power of technology-rich experiences like digital storytelling to engage literacy, wikis to engage collaboration, student-created media to engage creativity, primary sources available online to engage information fluency, and many other such technologies when they are working to engage the process of learning. When our focus is leading students on the journey of learning how to learn, and we choose technologies that help us advance that goal, that is when I think technology is the most meaningful and relevant for our schools and our students.