Last week, Lucas Ames wrote a wonderful blog post entitled, “A Class Full of Digital Natives Doesn’t Know They Know Everything..” I agree with Lucas’ assessment that just because high school students have grown up connected doesn’t mean that they can transfer that ability to use the same tools that they connect socially in ways which will facilitate their learning. I have found the had the same experiences as Lucas, that there are “a significant number of students who had real antipathy toward using technology as a vehicle of assessment. ”
This upcoming year, a large number of the teachers that we have hired are younger teachers, at least from my perspective. Some of these teachers are significantly closer in age to the millennials that they will be teaching than to my generation. Many of them arrive on campus with their iPhones or other smart phones, having used the various Google tools in their previous posts, and many having taken online courses using Moodle or Blackboard. These faculty Facebook and text as their primary ways of communicating. Using email is their badge of being responsible.
However, just because these teachers use technology to connect and communicate with each other, doesn’t mean that they have developed the skills to use the technologies for instruction. Just because they can use Google to search, doesn’t mean that they can teach or guide a student to use Google to do the most effective searches that they can. Just because they can get their gossip from Perez Hilton, doesn’t mean that they know when it would be best to use blogging to reflect, and then communicate with the world. It is the jobs of technology directors, technology integrators, and curriculum specialists to guide and teach the new faculty how to best use these tools for instruction, to meet the goals and objectives that they have for their classes. Similarly to the way that we need to convince students to build a public electronic portfolio, we too need to convince our newer, younger teachers, to create experiences which will showcase their abilities and passions, to develop a teaching portfolio which shows how they are implementing 21st Century teaching into their classrooms.
I am trying to be thoughtful and develop the experiences and awareness of the tools that will enable these new teachers the ability to construct dynamic, fresh experiences for our students. As Lucas Ames wrote,
Getting (teachers) to think about social media and technology from an academic or “life skills” perspective is something we must consciously teach and not assume they bring to class as digital natives. (Teachers) are neither totally apathetic nor uniformly excited about technology. They are diverse in their outlook and capabilities. This is no different from any other skill we try to teach in class.
(I have substituted teachers for students, but the thoughts are still the same.)