Friday, February 8, 2013

Required Reading

In class this week, in one section of Integrating and Technology, we discussed whether the 4th grader of today will be writing the standard research paper when she enters college in the next decade. This article from The New York Times, "Education Needs a Digital Upgrade," suggests we are teaching students for a world that we don't yet know exists. We can't predict the jobs our young children will have in the future. We don't even know what these jobs will be.

To quote from the article, "According to Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, fully 65 percent of today's grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn't been invented yet." In her book, Now You See It, Davidson urges teachers to stop teaching according to the Industrial Age model.  

The contemporary American classroom, with its grades and deference to the clock, is an inheritance from the late 19th century.

She claims that the standard research paper assignment, popular in college classrooms, not only yields awful results, but is not even representative of the students' talents.

Check the article, "Education Needs a Digital Upgrade." In addition to what the title suggests, Davidson advocates for a whole new approach to education, not just in terms of technology tools. Do you agree with the statements Davidson makes? If so, with which assertions? In what directions do you believe education should be heading?


  1. When we talked about this in class you had also mentioned that it is likely kids will no longer hand in a printed version of a paper and get it back with handwritten feedback. When I was doing my undergrad work in New Hampshire this change had already started. In my junior and senior year it was very common to email papers to professors and for them to send them back with highlights and digital comments. It was weird to see that first email version but it made it so much easier to make corrections and edits when the feedback was all right there on the screen.

    I wouldn't be surprised if students and professors started conferencing via Skype instead of having conferences in person.

    Will such changes make mankind a less social society? It seems almost common for groups of people to get together, yet sit around with each person only half tuned into the current conversation while also communicating elsewhere via their cellphones.

    Do these communicative shifts weaken our interactions?

  2. I remember when I purchased my first cell phone in 2000 and thought "Wow technology is amazing." The following year I bought my first personal computer and was so excited to use it. A couple years prior years, I used the library or computer lab to type up reports for teachers and professors. It is amazing where we are now! Technology has reinvented itself time and time again. Little did I know I would be taking a course about integrating technology and literacy in my classroom!

    I feel the change, like Shannon Parker said above, has already begun where teachers are reading, correcting, and grading students' papers via the computer. Students are now taking technology classes versus keyboarding classes in elementary school.

    In the article "Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade," Virginia Heffernan mentions the shift of technology and how teachers should start changing how to teach and assess students to get them ready for careers not invented yet. Teachers are already addressing the need. They are bringing technology into the classroom. They are assessing students in so many diverse ways other than typical pen and paper, research paper. Teachers should be offered more classes on how to integrate technology into their classrooms.

  3. I have been involved in this technological learning curve for longer than I care to mention, and one of the greatest problems is keeping up with all the changes. There are untold numbers of applications and software for similar purposes, making it difficult to decide what to use and what to ignore. I agree with Suzanne regarding a dedicated arm of professional development to assist teachers in deciding how to effectively integrate technology in a class.

    Aside from that, I agree with the author that we can't envision what our children will confront when they hit the job market of the future. Who (other than Steve Jobs and others like him) could have foreseen the cell-phone as a media device, or the tablet as a soon-to-be replacement for a PC? Even with being involved in computers since 1986, I didn't see it coming.

    This brings us back to education: what is our definition of the term? Certainly we can make the claim that the standard schoolroom of the 20th century was designed with old Industrial Revolution piece-work production in mind. Even towards the latter part of the century, that model did not really function anymore. I really think we need to redefine what we mean when we say 'educate our children'.