From Scroll to Book to Internet: Educational Technology Changes Everything

New technologies can change everything–what and how we learn, know, understand, communicate, socialize, and think.

Many people have enjoyed the video called Help Desk, posted by Zauron3ooo, that hilariously depicts an interaction between two monks as they try to figure out how to use the new technology of the book, as opposed to the old way of the scroll.

I believe that Help Desk is a great prelude to this video called Joe’s Non Netbook, posted by sabestian. In it, an educator has a candid conversation with a teenage student about the difference between his textbook and the Internet.

What do you think of these two videos, examined together? A few brief thoughts from my brain include:

  • a move from linear to completely non-linear thinking (also a huge part of e-books and how they have re-defined literacy)
  • a struggle between how things were done in the past, and how they are done now, but no less effort or willingness to learn
  • the importance of learning about and discussing the medium or tool that is used to learn, share, or create, no matter what the content may be
  • the importance of organizing, linking, and categorizing information in the process of learning

What are your thoughts, connections, or opinions on both of these videos? I would love to know what students and teachers come up with when examining them together.

New High School Course to Examine Technology

I am currently working with a group of teachers to overhaul a course offering in the high school where I work. The course has existed for many years under the name, Information Technology. Collaborating to update it has been an incredible learning experience so far.

It amazes me, how outdated the course has become in fewer than five years. In many ways, even the current the course curriculum still reads like a secretary’s handbook from the 1990’s, full of outcomes that reflect long lists of static technical skills like:

  • entering text in a document
  • numbering pages
  • changing font, font size, and style
  • adding clip art to a slide

However, a recent curriculum update has added and enhanced some more thoughtful outcomes including:

  • analyze and demonstrate the effective use of communication tools (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • define and evaluate digital literacy
  • think and solve problems
  • be adaptable

As I continue my work to overhaul this course, I am drawing conclusions about what it should look and feel like. It is clear that the course should no longer focus on the mechanics of Microsoft Office applications–it needs to branch out to Web 2.0 tools. But far more important than diversifying tools, is how we teach students to think about and understand their interactions with technology. Students often use technology without examining the processes that they went through to use it, the benefits or limitations of the tools, how to problem-solve, and how they can apply the tools in the real world. In many ways, we are following ISTE’s (International Society for Technology in Education) NETS-S Standards for Students in our work.

With this in mind, I would suggest that we call the new course Innovative Technology and focus on:

  • real-world examples and applications
  • assistive technology applications
  • networking with professionals to learn how they use technology
  • discussing, thinking, and sharing the process of using technology
  • examining social, emotional, cognitive, and academic effects and consequences
  • sharing ideas, knowledge, and skills through a variety of mediums with specific audiences in mind
  • examining ethical issues and digital citizenship
  • using and contributing to creative commons works
  • researching and preparing for how to respond to and use emerging technologies and future trends
  • using Web 2.0 tools

These are my thoughts so far on the overarching themes of our new Innovative Technology course. Do have some suggestions for me? Ideas? Resources? As always, they are all very much appreciated and welcome!

(Image: IT10 brainstorm, by TechPudding. 2011.)