Saturday, September 15, 2012

You Think Technology is the Answer to Everything!

My wife and I had a discussion a few days ago about high school requirements in our school district. I highlighted the fact that the requirements include four years of English, more than any other subject. Unlike the current national mood that seems to channel everything to math and science our district has stood firm on Humanities while increasing the requirements in math and science. Off hand I commented that I hoped that some digital literacies were included in these four years. My wife said "You think technology is the answer to everything!" There was quite a bit of emotion in the statement but that may have had more to do with the dishes in the sink...

I paused and thought "I think technology is the question, not the answer". Her response is probably a testament to what I talk about at home. My mind has been focused on art and technology integration for the better part of a decade now- so I understand my wife's exasperation with the comment. At the same time her comment echoed one made by one of my colleagues recently. In a conversation about technology he said that ultimately we need evidence that the integration of new technologies impact student learning. By that, of course, he meant learning as measured in traditional ways.

I think that both comments come from the same place. The underlying assumption is that technology is part of an educational solution. That it is supposed to solve old problems. I argue that technology can sometimes do it, but it also has a broader application. To be fully integrated we need to teach our students to participate in this digital world. Art is exactly the same, it can often be integrated so it can help achieve in other domains (in our research writing and vocabulary knowledge) but ultimately it helps build well rounded students who thrive in life and not just math.

Digital media, just like the arts, created new ways to express ourselves and to BE. It is omnipresent and have become part of the fabric of our everyday life in a way that transcends the notion of a tool. As a result digital media should part of school curriculum not as a tool but as a mode of learning and being.

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