Our obligation to prepare students for what is and will be, not what was
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
Here's a comment I just left over at another blog:
Thank you for your thoughtful extension of the conversation at my blog. I always appreciate when others express their misgivings about my posts because it forces me to clarify my own thinking and message.
I don't think the answer to everything in education is technology. But I DO think it's important for schools to be relevant to the age in which they operate. Given that we now live in a digital, globally-interconnected era, I think schools owe it to their students to be up with the times. And we don't do that by having our kids spend 90+% of their time in lecture-, textbook-, and notebook paper-driven learning environments. The gaps between how we learn in the real world and what schools do has never been greater. Those gaps continue to increase every year, as the pace of change inside school is dwarfed by that outside of school. What's our moral / ethical / professional obligation as school leaders to prepare students for the world as it is and will be, not what was? I think it's pretty high.
You note that students aren't using the technology for anything 'meaningful.' Why would they be? Have their schools, teachers, or parents helped them understand the power of using digital technologies for productive work within the relevant discipline of study? Most have not, instead utilizing technology primarily for replicating factory, rather than information age, models of schooling. Absent productive use and modeling by their instructors and/or parents, of course students are going to use technology primarily for social purposes (just like we adults do).
The jab at my advisory board membership is undeserved, particularly given that I have yet to receive a dime from any corporation for that type of service.
Finally, I'll note that the post in question was not a poke-in-the-eye aimed at teachers but rather the educational system as a whole. As school leaders, we have much greater influence over 'the system' than classroom teachers do. And it behooves us to make some radical changes quickly if schools are not to be completely irrelevant to the needs of students, families, and society.
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