Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Curriculum-Technology Question

Should technology drive the curriculum??  I have been back and forth on the answer all day.  My conflict with the question is that there are two underlying questions which require our attention:  Is the curriculum what it should be?  Is the technology that is being used supporting the curriculum in the best way possible?

In order to answer the second question, you need to have answered the first.  Are we teaching students the skills and content that they need to be successful adults?  That is a pretty big question and I think there are as many different answers as there are schools.

For me, I am not sure that I can answer that question with a resounding yes.  I think that as an individual teacher, I try to ensure that my students are learning to interact with and evaluate information in meaningful ways that will enable them to become critical thinkers, effective problem-solvers and competent communicators.  I think that my school strives to do this as well.  But there is always room for growth and improvement, so to say that we are teaching students exactly what we should be is a bit of a stretch.

The other question is are we using the technology in effective ways?  Here again, there are many answers.  Some teachers are very facile with technology integration.  Others realize they need support and get it.  There are a few who like things just fine the way they are and see no need for change.  And let's face it, to embrace technology is to embrace change.

But I still haven't really answered the question.

It would be easy to say that technology is a tool and should support the curriculum.  For the most part, I believe there is wisdom in this mindset.  But it doesn't account for the ways that technology SHOULD drive the curriculum.  Coding comes to mind.  Will all jobs eventually require coding?  Probably not.  But should all students learn to code?  Probably.  The process of learning coding builds important problem solving skills and good old fashioned grit.  If you don't believe me, try Code.org yourself.  I have been stuck in level 7 for weeks!  It is hard and my brain isn't really wired to code, but my successful attempts (which are admittedly rare) feel great.  In this case, the technology has driven the curriculum.  And it isn't really a bad thing.

I know, I still haven't answered the question.  But this much I know:

  • Technology is not a learning outcome.
  • Technology should enhance learning and engage learners.
  • Technology should help students start conversations - with each other, with you, with the world.
  • We need to be consistently and critically evaluating both our curriculum AND the technological tools we are using to deliver it.  And maybe then we can answer the question.
 

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