Friday, 30 April 2010
When and where should we be teaching students about their digital footprint?
Through Will Richardson's 'Rethinking how students learn' recent blog post, I found the new book: 21st Century Skills, Bellanca & Brandt (eds.) and perused bits of the book. It seems to me that as Web 2.0 technologies become more integrated into our everyday lives and thus make their way into our classroom, we'll be able to answer the Q of when & where to teach students about their digital footprint. The digital map we looked at in class the other day was informative in the sense that I viewed myself as being 'innocent' and protected and essentially being free of the 'digital footprint.' Then I found I actually had one from a short blog I started last year. It appears that the authors of 2st Century Skills are going to lead us into reform as we educators come to understand that we have to go there. Here are some considerations from the 'Preface': '... determining how these new demands fit in relation to existing curriculum [and]... finding ways they can be taught along with content, and then managing the complex process of implementation.'
So it appears as if we've come full circle. I remember 10 years ago, education was headed toward 'integration.' Here at ISB, the tech coordinator of the time spent all of his time designing an integrated curriculum, had us on teams to provide input and presented it to the core content-area teachers—a lengthy, complex set of outcomes and aims connected to those of the content-areas. There was even a scope & sequence to go with it. We (I was teaching English 10 at the time) attempted to do it all: In English we were charged with ensuring students had word processing basics and how to properly do a Works Cited page. We were given these bits because the grade 10s had to do a major research project and it seemed like a no-brainer to integrate them into the English department. But, over time, things changed. The tech coordinator moved on and his initiative went south after he left. We managed to get by by then assuming that the HS students somehow had the necessary technology knowledge and skills. This assumption was faulty as inevitably we'd get a certain number of students in our classes who didn't have this skill or that, or know this or that, and then we had to figure out how to bring him/her up to speed. Most often, I would just call upon any of my 'techies' in any one class to do that for me whenever the time allowed—messy, but it worked.
Now, it seems like this curriculum integration might be on its way back. Maybe at the time, the fruit wasn't quite ripe enough to fall off the tree. Maybe now the fruit has ripened and we'll be collectively ready to accept integration and share what needs to be shared. We have the tech teams here we need to work up a new plan. We teachers are coming to realize change is afoot. The students are already there as digital natives. Given Web 2.0, there's collaboration available to figure out what goes where. I'd say we can figure out when and where (& how) to teach students about their digital footprint along with everything else. And, what's also suggested in 21 Century Skills is that teachers be learners & learners be teachers. So we have a lot to draw upon.