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Technology Literacy

February 3, 2009

We have all heard the need for schools to focus on literacy skills, but how many of us have heard the call for “technology literacy” skills?  The U.S. Department of Education (1996) defines technology literacy as “computer skills and the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity, and performance.”

We have a President that refuses to give up his Blackberry.  You have a Superintendent that uses his iPhone constantly.  Many of our students use cell phones and laptops most of their waking hours.  The 21st Century is here and we are starting to react to the pace of innovation and the ubiquitous nature of technology.

What is the role of schools in teaching these new “literacy” skills?  Joe Harrison, the Superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools states, “Today in education, we must teach children where they are and not where we were… We should work to support students in responsibly using technology to access, manage, and evaluate information, solve problems, and build and share knowledge”.

At a recent lunch with Tom Covert, a 1990 Saline High School graduate, he joked about “Goggling” the term pinewood derby and finding out that he could buy a pre-cut guaranteed winner for $150.  Times have changed…. Access to information is everywhere and the world is truly flat.

As a district we are working to develop the skills needed for the 21st Century in each student, while at the same time focusing on the high achievement standards that our staff and community expect.  If you are able, come to our next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, February 10th at 6:30pm at Union School to hear about some of unique ways in which we are incorporating technology skills into our curriculum from Kindergarten through High School.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bush permalink
    February 4, 2009 5:37 pm

    By far the most important educational initiative for the future of our students. Not only “computer” literacy, but HANDS-ON problem solving skills as well.

    BRING BACK THE MIDDLE SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION PROGRAM! With the resources of our district, it should be a K-12 initiative.

  2. Graden permalink
    February 4, 2009 7:44 pm

    Is “technology education” the way to handle teaching problem solving skills? In many ways we are working to embed the technology experience in every area of content. The instructional strategies that enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills can (and should) be incorporated into each subject area.

    We are looking to access technology in new ways to enhance those strategies.

  3. michael riesterer permalink
    February 4, 2009 10:44 pm

    To tie the previous two comments together, I would say that “HANDS-ON problem solving” coupled with the move to “embed the technology experience in every area of content” may speak to the need for an interdisciplinary approach — one where academic content is made compelling through its real world connection to technology.

    Can technology teachers and academic teachers work together to bring more relevance to a student’s school experience?

  4. Graden permalink
    February 4, 2009 11:45 pm

    Funny you mention it…. I spoke today at a Middle School staff meeting about that very concept. My example related a 1997 Saline High School graduate who has a patent on heart value patent. Is there a way we can offer an anatomy class that is 50% in the science room learning about the human body and 50% in the tech lab designing and building a valve or joint?

    Maybe a shared physics and metals class where our students design and build a gear system? Maybe a music and technology course where students write, play and record their music in a digital format and then mix, produce and create new songs? We could call it – “Rock Band”.

    In Saline, we have the students, staff and facilities to offer outstanding programs that will set us apart as the premier public school district in Michigan.

  5. Hynek permalink
    February 6, 2009 9:31 am

    This is one area where we should be exploring (and/or exploiting) partnerships with all of our local universities, businesses and people who live in the district. I know when I was taking computer programming classes taught by academics (and I was already working in the “real” world), they were a little out of touch with how some of these concepts are applied by businesses. Budgets, resources and “profits: sometimes help/hinder the application of technology. We also need to get our kids to think how technology will affect their future in other ways (ie., electronic medical records, banking (why do we need currency ?).

  6. Deb permalink
    February 6, 2009 5:32 pm

    I am very excited about the way our schools are actually using “technology”. I will walk through the hallways and see many teachers walking with their laptops and discussing ways to use technology tools. It is no longer just talk.
    I like how we are promoting podcasting, use of email lists for communications, district blogs, and using technology in the “regular” classroom.
    I agree about the partnerships. It is interesting how many experts we have right in our community. I like the idea of “tapping into” these many talents.
    BTW, a website I often look to is Some of the main focus is on public education and communities, technology integration and project learning.

  7. Graden permalink
    February 6, 2009 10:41 pm

    Interesting article – it is nice to see some research done with a control group. The quote “The findings suggest that hands-on, problem-solving learning may have advantages over traditional lecture- and textbook-based methods of teaching students about engineering and technology,” is telling.
    In general, it confirms what most of us feel like we know – “creating is better than just thinking about a topic”. We need to develop more courses that incorporate the theory and the practice.

    On the subject of partnerships – I could not agree more. Today, I spoke to 1997 Saline High School graduate Andrew Koert. He is not yet 30 years old and just so happens to be on 3 heart pump patents. In speaking to him, he noted he got his break because he was “interning” as an undergrad to apply his knowledge. The applied knowledge he gained set him apart when he joined a small medical supply start up.

  8. Maggie permalink
    February 9, 2009 1:31 pm

    Although it’s important to incorporate technology into other class activities, there is still the need to teach the basics – how to use a computer, learn the basic programs (word, excel, PowerPoint, write macros, search the internet, etc.). Dropping the 5th/6th technology programs in Saline and replacing with a foreign language is incomprehensible for our children’s future. Although I took French from 5th-12th grade and then a required 4 college semesters – in the 30+ years since then I have never used it.

    A computer and computer skills, on the other hand, is something used daily.

  9. Graden permalink
    February 9, 2009 6:29 pm

    While it is true that we are no longer offering the stand alone Technology class and have replaced it World Languages, we are in fact still teaching technology skills.

    Our method for effective technology instruction is to use our Media Specialists to support the integrated use of technology within the classroom setting. For example, instead of learning MS Word on by drafting a sample letter in a technology class, we can have the students working on writing an language arts assignment using the software.

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