Monday, March 17, 2008

technology reflection

When we discussed technology in the classroom during the last class period, I started thinking about the necessity of teaching technology skills in the content areas and not just in a computer or technology course. However, at this point, although teachers are encouraged to use technology to aid teaching, I don't feel they are equally encouraged to teach technology. Technology skills are not part of content area standards, and so teachers are not pressured to teach or assess these skills. In the TN Technology Standards, teachers are only expected to use technology as a teaching aid to improve student learning. I think this ignores the responsibility teachers should have to teach technology skills that are relevant to different disciplines. The fact that teacher education includes learning about technology as teaching aids is an example of the way disciplines on the college level take responsibility for teaching the technology skills that are needed in each discipline.

In my previous teaching experience, I admit that I rarely taught technology skills explicitly, although I did expect students to use technology to complete various activities. Students created PowerPoint Presentations to show their learning, used Word to type papers, used computer programs to practice skills for the state test, and navigated the Internet for research and learning. In none of these cases did I explicitly teach students how to use the technology. I assumed they already had some knowledge or that they would gain greater knowledge just through experience of using the technology. Clearly there were some students who knew the technology well and did a good job and others who did not. In retrospect, I think it was unfair of me to expect students to proficiently use the technology without giving them instruction in how to use it. This put students on an un-level playing field based on whether or not they had previous exposure to technology.

I did explicitly teach technology skills in one case when students were required to create a resume. I teamed up with the computer teacher to teach students how to use the templates in Word. But other than this, I mainly only used technology as an aid to my own teaching, such as the overhead projector, LED projector, iTunes, etc. I think now that technology should be incorporated into the standards for each discipline in order to make sure that all students are able to master required skills for the discipline, rather than just assuming that students will gain these skills elsewhere.

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