Teachers are arguably overburdened with content. Now, it seems, there is more to do in terms of planning. We need to integrate all the buzzwords too. “21st century” skills and learning, “digital citizenship.”
But wait! Is it a really a new thing at all? Many of these skills have been taught (or should have been!) for years. I would like roofer a review of some masterful resources produced by some fine associations that are built, honed and ready-to-go I order to help teachers the world over do old things in new ways and start doing new things in new ways, all to promote higher order learning and stunt outcomes. Now surely no one could be against that.
Though it is fundamental, as my previous post, Digital Responsibility: Where does it lie? As the Beatles sang, “Here, There & Everywhere” covers digital citizenship and discusses who is responsible for disseminating these ideals (as the title suggests… everyone) I will not go into this in detail here.
Now, as educators, clearly we have the greatest opportunity to ensure that integration is happening in terms of the students actual classroom work. Social Learning theory informs us that by having students assist one another in creation with new media, learning outcomes achieved are optimized. It also highlights how the responsible use we model has a two-fold impact as students then, in turn, model for one another.
A brief examination here of:
the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Education Technology Standards (NETS) and Essential Conditions is instructive as the whole basis of integration is dependent on a comprehensive view of the integration of technology throughout the school. The efficacy of the entire program is only as strong as the weakest links.
Continual professional development is key here. It is instructive to consider this in collaboration with the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) standards and the work of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21C) to give greater context and to consider how the application of complimentary resources can be used to achieve a higher level of synergy in school wide implementation. As my purpose is to introduce synergistic resources I will focus on where these resources overlap, suggest how they might be used together and point out any differences or ‘gaps.’
NETS and AASL Standards: Where do they overlap?
As one would hope to find overlap in integration documents across disciplines they are evident in a comparison of the AASL and ISTE documents.
AASL Areas of Focus: Skills, Technology Operations and Concepts in Action, Responsibilities & Self-Assessment Strategies
NETS Areas of Focus: Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration, Research and Information Fluency, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, Digital Citizenship, Technology Operations and Concepts
AASL has a component of requiring students to Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge/Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society which has clear similarity, at least in part, to the NETS focus on digital citizenship.
AASL demands that students pursue personal and aesthetic growth where NETS has us assess creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making.
AASL considers the necessity for a social context to learning similar to the NETS collaboration.
Clearly based on similar pedagogy, both agree in large part on what students need for development and preparation for complete participation in the adult world which awaits them.
NETs and AASL Standards: Where are there gaps?
It appears to me that there is a clearer (perhaps just more obvious?) focus on the use of technology in the NETS documentation.
The NETS are also more clearly laid out in terms of who has what responsibilities in relation to the others. The Essential Conditions for one, are clearly set out here alone while the standards for Administrators, Teachers and Students are also laid out in such a manner as to be easily transferable into school wide documents to ensure all goals are being set out comprehensively.
It falls to administrators to embrace these initiatives. They then must be integrated into existing curricula in a meaningful manner with input and full participation from teaching staff. Just doing this for its own sake will not improve learning outcomes. Teachers must also embrace the new approach, become pro-active about training and implementation and make the jump into their own professional learning communities to stay abreast of the latest technologies and continually expand their repertoire of teaching strategies and understanding of effective integration. Students are already using much of the technology and I have seen them take to collaborative sharing with it as natural outcome of social learning in action.
It isn’t easy however, to turn teachers opposed to integration or resistant or fearful around. It isn’t always even easy to get parents on board to new things right away. The process of training and integration, resourcing the technology necessary, planning and changing the way we teach and think about learning all takes time. Perhaps the most important ingredient to making it work is commitment. Without it, the tide will turn on its own leaving many behind.
Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21C) Website Support
To keep it simple I have opted to merely cut and paste from the website to allow the Partnership for 21st Century Skills introduce themselves:
Route 21 was created by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child’s success as citizens and workers in the 21st century. The Partnership encourages schools, districts and states to advocate for the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.
The P21C website offers a wealth of documentation, overview videos and other resources and insight into how the aforementioned organizations’ philosophies are implemented in a variety of settings.
Schools interested in forward-thinking, effective implementation of a program of technology integration for their students with the aim of fostering the necessary skills for full, active participation in the world ahead of them would be well served by careful review of the resources available through these organizations. Commitment to the goal, coupled with careful time management and communication are further requisite for suceess. Teachers and administrators also need to be vigilant in their efforts to remain up-to-date as the pace of technology itself continues to advance.