Teaching Technology Post “Noughties”

For a while now I have been questioning the curriculum that is seen in many primary school I.T/ICT/Technology/Computer classes. Many primary school students spend an hour each week in a computer lab learning about Office programs and the like….”how to make a PowerPoint, Word Document, Photo Story etc”.

Now that we have left the “noughties”, these sorts of skills will no longer get students very far.

I believe that students should be taught basic skills in an authentic way and the list of skills that students need to know has changed dramatically in recent times. In 2008, I was involved in creating a Scope and Sequence (list of skills) for my school’s technology curriculum. I now cringe to think of some of the stand alone “skills” I listed in this document just 18 months ago!

Granted, there are many technology teachers who are now moving beyond these “stand alone, software based” skills into the world of Web 2.0, collaboration and multimedia which is fantastic. I also believe that teaching students about technology is not the sole responsibility of the technology teacher and technology integration in the general classroom is essential.

Today I came across a fantastic blog post by Kim Cofino which basically put all these thoughts I had been brewing into words! Check it out here….

Kim suggested a list of skills that emphasise “bigger, more wider-reaching concepts like collaboration across distances, communicating ideas to multiple audiences, or creating something new using technology tools”

Some of the skills that Kim suggested included:

  • knowing to hold your mouse over an icon or a link to see what it does.
  • understanding that the menus for any program are at the top of the screen, that they are usually very similar, and generally what you find within them (for example: “view” usually means how you see things on the screen and that menu is found in almost every program).
  • recognizing when something is lit up (or underlined) on a website, you can click on it.
  • knowing that the cursor changes when held over different parts of the screen and what that means (the little arrow turning into a hand over a weblink for example, or being able to stretch out a picture when it turns into the double-sided arrow).
  • using tab to move from cell to cell or box to box on forms or websites.
  • being able to recognize drop-down menus – and that they hold additional features.
  • understanding that right clicking on things brings up more options.

These skills are transferable across almost all computer programs and operating systems. Many of her readers also added to this list with excellent suggestions.

Reading Kim’s post has really made me think about how I’ll approach teaching my Grade Two students in 2010 as well as how I will approach my coaching of fellow staff members. As she says, it is important to make the implicit, explicit.

I also loved this cartoon that Kim included in her post! It perfectly captures the way I’ve (unsuccessfully) tried to explain to many people that I’m not an expert but just have a few strategies that I try when I’m trying to figure something out!