When I think of analog learning, I think of something static. I think of content that doesn’t change and is quickly outdated. I think of a textbook that I can’t interact with. Would you agree? If so, what do you think our students think? Is this normal to them? Do we want it to be normal to them? Do they have a say?
Learning opportunities that exist today are far from analog. The evidence of content is in abundance. That doesn’t mean we just send our students freely to the Web without important conversations about things like proper digital behavior and critical consumption. This cannot be treated as a skill that we have students pick up in eighth grade from a particular course. How to deal with the flood of information and tools available to our students must become a literacy. We have a responsibility to our students. If we claim to be doing what’s best for students, yet we keep our resources and methods in the 20th century, our students are losing out.
We. Need. A. Plan.
Getting our students to a place of digital literacy begins with us. It’s a matter of modeling what we expect. It’s a matter of teaching the way we would want to be taught today if we were students in our classrooms. We must make this literacy a priority for teachers before we can expect to get our students there. Teachers: This isn’t meant to be seen as “one more thing.” Your students want you to go with them on this journey. Let them help. Let them teach you. Grow together. Leaders: It’s not a matter of finding the time for your teachers to learn; it’s a matter of making the time.
This is why a plan is important when beginning to venture into these new horizons of literacy. We have national standards for administrators, teachers and students to help guide us in our journey to increase our digital literacy. Be sure to check out the Essential Conditions too. All are great places to start.
Does every teacher, student and administrator need to have X, Y and Z mastered straight away or even by the end of one school year? I don’t think so. What we expose our students to — learning that fosters creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking — provides them continual experiences for them to build on year after year.
In my district, our department is working closely with our assistant superintendent of elementary instruction to create a year-long professional development plan for our elementary school principals. Using the NETS-A as a guide, we’ve created learning opportunities that allow administrators to experience new tools, ideas and resources they can take back and use with their teachers (modeling), which will (hopefully) have a trickle-down effect. Teachers will become interested and want to learn more, which leads to teachers using said ideas and resources with students, which leads to students being exposed to new tools and resources to foster the “C’s” mentioned earlier. Teaching and learning is happening in new and different ways. It’s an exciting plan to be part of and our team can’t wait to see what happens next.
Making a move from the “analog” is an important step. One that’s hard to make by oneself. Planning and support is essential. Stick with it and don’t look back. You can only get better.
Thanks for reading.
Kyle Pace (@kylepace) is an instructional technology specialist for the Lee’s Summit School District just outside Kansas City, Mo. He’s committed to helping teachers learn tools and strategies that will engage today’s students, differentiate instruction and promote creativity and critical thinking. Kyle also is a Google Certified Teacher. Check out his blog.