Yup, you heard me right. At the Kamehameha Schools Technology Conference I attended last week, this was a resounding message from one of the keynote speakers, Will Richardson. He argues that we are now living in a transparent and participatory world where one of our main goals for students when they graduate high school is to be “googled well.”
I consider myself an open-minded person, but when he trolled that line, he did not get a bite from me. Helloooo! What happened to stranger danger? Online predators? I was not sold at all. But after digesting his words, I began to nibble on his line.
Richardson asserts that if you are going to have your students utilize technology in the classroom, you, as a teacher, need to be actively employing it as well. After all, in Richardson’s words, “[You] wouldn’t want your daughter being taught how to drive by someone without a license.” Makes sense. Moreover, we have to find ways to use technology effectively in the classroom. Michael Wesch, another keynote speaker, emphasized the need to establish purpose when using technology. If students are just tweeting so their teacher can brag about the fact that her students are on Twitter, they’re not going to see the value in it because there isn’t any.
In addition to purpose, students also need to be pursuing their passions. If we’re not allowing them to do this, we are indeed failing them. PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) are the perfect intersection for these two objectives to converge. Nowadays many adults have developed online PLNs to follow their passions, so why not show students how to do the same? Twitter is an ideal vehicle to establish a knowledgeable PLN. Then they’re using technology effectively, but they’re pursuing their agendas, not yours.
In the article, Howard Rheingold on How the Five Web Literacies are Becoming Essential Survival Skills, he is quoted as saying, “If, like many others, you are concerned social media is making people and cultures shallow, I propose we teach more people how to swim and together explore the deeper end of the pool.” It is our job as educators to prepare our students for their futures, not our pasts. Our kids are undoubtedly going to be navigating this online world with or without us, so it’s our job to show them how to utilize it responsibly, efficiently, and safely.
Whether we like it or not, the technological revolution is here. So, the only question is, are you on board?
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