I have been thinking a lot lately about being technologically literate. I have been reading posts on other's blogs and observing the teachers in my building looking for signs of being "literate." I have seen a lot of web surfing and a lot of power point slide shows to deliver instruction and I find myself asking- is this right? Where is the line drawn? I think we owe it to our kids to teach them how to create content and connect with people that can provide insight beyond that of the classroom walls. Power Point and "the old web" just don't cut it in my book. It is a hard point to sell, though that the technology so many teachers just became comfortable with is obsolete.
Learning how to be technologically literate with all of the 2.0 tools available today is a daunting task for most, but we are doing our students a disservice be not embracing it.

Tags: 2.0, facade, literacy, technlogical

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This idea is related to another discussion that is going on in the blogosphere. I do not think that the tools you mention are obsolete but rather that we employ them in an obsolete fashion. We are having trouble seeing the big picture and answering the question- Why am I doing this? As a friend of mine said I refuse to spread myself thin.I keeep it simple but go deep. Sometimes we want to employ the 2.0 tools but we have not identified yet the learning we want to embrace. I am getting ready to discuss this at the next Faculty Meeting and in some ways it gets back to the idea of asking the right questions. For example are we studying early civilizations so we can name some and give examples or is the real issue what does it take to create a society. I know a teacher who uses Simcity as part of his curriculum in order to talk about what a society needs, ,wants, and how they use it. that is the big picture that leads to real learning.
Maybe I am rambling but I really want to get a handle on this. The learning we are promoting even at the elementary level moves beyond simple literacy. It definitely has to move beyond recall. It is about learning to use knowledge not just about gaining knowledge. So in a K-8 setting what does that look like?
"Employing them in an obsolete fashion" is a better way of saying it. Using these tools to deliver instruction in an old fashioned way is certainly counterproductive. The SimCity example is an excellent use of technology and it doesn't take much technological literacy. The game "Civilizations" is also great.

Learning to use knowledge in a K-8 setting to me should look a million different ways with the end result being dialogue. Students being sparked into meaningful dialogue with each other and anyone else they can conect with outside the classroom. The idea that because of connectivity, learning can take palce 24/7 is the message we need to send to our students. Teaching students to deal with this and to manage the deluge of information is our charge.

I don't think knowing all the web 2.0 tools is essential to being tech literate. I don't know the half of it myself. I also wonder how many web 2.0 mediums will still exist in 5 to 10 years. Does having a blog make one tech literate? I don't think so. Perhaps its the volume of tools that makes on tech literate. I consider myself tech literate, but posting here and my class blog are the only web 2.0 things I do (and the few boards I post on). You've got me thinking...
I agree that a lot of the tools are "fly by night" and we don't know what will be the "cool" new thing next week, but what we are left with is the shift in education that we need to embrace. Teaching students that there is a lot out there that needs to be sorted through and the that tools to do this have nothing to do with technology. Learning how to manage information and be resourceful enough to "find your way" are the marks of future success.
This is a thoughtful discussion. The reflections in this thread mirror my own of late. Technological literacy a façade? I tend to agree in many respects. Fifteen years ago my students and I were working with Apple's Hypercard, not unlike HyperStudio. Ten years after that I found myself in Singapore developing massive amounts of eLearning material for Nokia, Singapore Airlines and other multinationals. I have returned to the classroom. Following work with CD-ROMs, eLearning and other technologies employed in an educational environment I find the core Web 2.0 technologies to be useful.

Blogs require no hard coding and can be quite appealing to the eye if an appropriate template is selected by the teacher or student. Blogs provide an opportunity for expression plus refelction and can act as the HQ in a blended learning experience. Podcasts can be used to support teaching before, during and after a teaching unit. Wikis can become an excellent repository for online resources and links to similar resources. All of the products created by these tools can be re-purposed and acquired by successive cohorts who will probably improve on the earlier cohort’s product. In years past CD-ROMs and major eLearning web sites tended to become outdated and unwieldy. Web 2.0 outputs do not have the same built in obsolescence if designed well.

There is an never ending stream of Web 2.0 technologies that pepper educational technology blogs and keep the folk at Mashable busy. A few are promising but many are seemingly gimmicks in my estimation. Last week it was Animoto. What will it be next week? Many lack the ‘solid’ nature of blogs, wikis and even podcasts. It is enjoyable to experiment with them. I still wonder sometimes about the term Web 2.0. Following my experiences with HyperCard, CD-ROMs and large eLearning projects I am a little reluctant to surgically attach myself to Web 2.0.

Technology is not a panacea for all our teaching and learning issues. Educators consider the desired knowledge, skills and attitudinal outcomes required of the syllabus. Match the outcome to the best tool or strategy via the use of a curriculum matrix. Perhaps the most appropriate tool is a quiz, debate, field trip, lecture, essay or drawing. Perhaps the best tool just might be the application of a matching technology.

Technological facade. Following my return to the classroom after a hiatus in tertiary and corporate worlds I was surprised to see both significant change and no change. Some teachers were experimenting with technology and "mixing media". Others were simply presenting copy/paste products with little thought for audience or outcomes as indicated in this

I am surprised with what I observe in the student population as well. There is certainly a core of students who are indeed quite savvy. They are building their own web presence. They have moved on from copy/paste Powerpoint and the fruitless pursuits of MySpace and the like. A significant proportion of students exhibit a lack of depth in their understanding of the technology and how it can be bent, shaped and moulded to produce something unique or quite different. I find that a significant number of students require considerable guidance and assistance in setting up blogs, producing presentations and working creatively with video, and so on.

As I have blogged elsewhere in relation to Sue Waters (Mobile Technology in TAFE) and her thoughts… are the students digital natives or digital dilettantes in the main? [Digital Natives or simply Digital Dilettantes?]

Change is constant and we need to embrace it. Thank goodness for change. Teaching and learning is enriched by change.

I would like to thank Barry Bakin, ESL Teacher Adviser, Division of Adult and Career Education in the Los Angeles Unified School District for the introduction to Classroom 2.0 and the discussion forums. Thank you Barry.

John Larkin
NSW, Australia.
Brad, welcome aboard. As it turns out, I'm working on a paper which asks if EduWeb 2.0 isn't really just having this same discussion 1,000,0000 times over. :-) Maybe there should be a sticky post, "Before you Web 2.0 about Web 2.0" :-)

But maybe we can turn this to something substantive. What is technological literacy? I know of one set of standards, National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) 2007, but they're rather high level and vague. Do you have any others?

When I think of technological literacy for the broad population, I think of the detailed things I have to show people all the time: how do you locate a picture to upload? How do you save a file or a picture? How do you cut and paste? What is Wikipedia?, Websters Online?, The Firefox plugin for zip code lookup? How do I find recipes?

Asking a student on her way to university to blog, Flickr, and Twitter may well be taking time that she needs to spend on ionic bonds, Romeo's plea for a kiss, ln(e), or Washington's Farewell speech. (I always recall a column several years back that we are teaching kids to communicate, communicate, communicate, but we are giving them less and less knowledge of what is worth communicating).

Asking another student to do the same could help them master (muscle-memorize for life) the basic skills needed on many a nearby job. Skills they won't pick up elsewhere, from family or friends or fellow students

Perhaps someone can recall a list of such skills?
There are some interesting comments. While I love what technology can do to enhance instruction and learning, I too am past the awe-struck stage of technology. The simplicity and focus on content that web 2.0 is amazing and great but as far as products, I agree with those that question the longevity of them. Many of them are free. Practically, how long can/will they be supported? Should I spend a year introducing them to students and faculty only to have them evaporate? I question the fairness to both groups.

I don't think of tech literacy being a vertical component of curriculum, learning, and instruction but rather a cross-component. Learning how technology can enhance learning, understanding, and hopefully improve life, I think is paramount. Defining tech literacy in terms of product features is where it gets murky for me. Autoformat in MS Word for a 3rd grader is an example or memorizing menu commands - it appears from history it will change and morph long before he/she can apply it in any meaningful context in any subject area.

If I had to define tech literacy at this point in time I would say that it's the skills necessary to choose the most effective tools for enhanced learning, knowledge creation, and knowledge presentation. Whether it's web x.x, Microsoft, apple, ETS, or Google, my hope is students start to develop an intrinsic framework so they too can weather the ever changing landscape of technology.
I agree with the point of view that the technology will not last but will morph into the next generation. That is what it is supposed to do isn't it? I mean if we are looking for a modern day version of the overhead projector that lives and thrives still today in many classrooms, a good 30 year run, there is no equivalent in today's enviroment in my opinion. The tools change every 18 months or less but what remains constant is the teaching of skills that will allow students to select the correct tool for the task and the learned ability to attach to it some meaning and purpose. So what I am looking forward to is the second generation of Second Life, Moodle, Wikis, Podcasts and Blogs. These tools will be as transparent and intuitive as Amazon, JC Penny and others. They will become part of the fabric of learning and teaching and take place outside of school as well as in the classroom.
I think it's about having an authentic audience for work created in the classroom. Very often there is no audience for student work other than the teacher and no purpose for writing other than the teacher said. So a teacher who has students create powerpoints, films, or ebooks which are never shared is still not providing audiences for student work even if the work might be more interesting than traditional paper and pencil.

While the internet does provide some ways of more easily connecting to global audiences I would not say it is the only way to provide audiences for student work. Simply having pen pals, for example, with whom students share their work would also accomplish the task.
I don't know whether this a fruitful line of discussion, or it just activates my concerns - are we really after technological literacy (however it's defined) or are we as educators seeking knowledge/information literacy? If the latter, then the (bewildering) array of technological -and other- tools are the means by which we demonstrate, communicate and interact with others concerning knowledge: the scaffolding upon which we construct knowledge. So, we need an understanding of the tools - but it's the tools for a purpose, and here John Larkin's question about digital natives or digital dilettantes is quite germane. So many of our technological savvy generation are not using tools in any knowledge building way. They are socially proficient, literate in the social digisphere, but when it comes to arcania - such as knowledge, and even more, wisdom - they are illiterate. As part of an atttempt to address this I've started a page on Critical Thinking Skills in response to a suggestion from Nathan Lowell.
There's a discussion elsewhere on the site, invoking Marshall McCluhan's The Medium is the Massage , and one of McLuhan's points is that when we are proficient, the medium disappears, and we can actually produce novel content, free of concerns about what the medium is, and how to manipulate it. (He also makes the interesting comment that when we first meet a mew medium, we recreate past art. (The rearview mirror effect, McLuhan calls it.) So, for example, many PowerPoint presentations were - and are - digital posters, early websites were single thread text documents. Only when the medium becomes 'invisible' do we create authentic objects in it.
The aim in Web 2.0, or whatever the next buzz will be, is mastering the technology - and that will mean putting up with patiently recreating old-style objects - to the point where the technology vanishes, and we can use it in its own modes.
And then our educational process comes back to key questions like
What do we have to say?
What do we have to share?
Who is our audience? Who is our community?
How much of a conversation do we need with them?
And when we have some clarity about this, our skills with tools will enable us to frame our work appropriately. The tools are important - but only if we have something to build with them! (We can't build without them, but they aren't the be-all and end-all.)
Ian - You make a great point about the message and medium. I always think of the "perfect" state of technology literacy is transparency. The medium (technology) is transparent to the user and the focus can be on the content (subject matter). Pip Coburn's The Change Function is a great book that touches upon this.

One of the things that interests me so much about web 2.0 is the content focus. Wikis and blogs are great examples. As I'm sure we've all experienced, creating web pages has always been a hard skill to integreate- learning HTML, server extensions, multiple page copies, etc - can quickly change the focus from the content to the technology. Now a teacher or a student can publish almost transparently a web content in a flash. The focus is on the content or as you said message, not trying to get text lined up with pictures by searching through a page of code. I used to half-jokingly tell me high school web page design students that after they were done making their pages look pretty they better have something to say/write since most people don't visit web pages just for the looks. We are starting turn to corner on content and transparency but, I think, is still a long row to hoe.
Fantastic questions, Brad. I am going to echo Ian and Edwin in that in order for any authentic learning to take place there can't be any barriers between the technology and the teaching. In a perfect situation, we would be focusing less on teaching with technology, but just teaching, and the technology would be considered just another strategy or delivery method. Looking at the signs and seeing progress from just last year to this year in the buildings I work in, I have to say that this is the direction we are heading in as a profession.

I read Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur this summer, which I recommend to anyone, and he did more than just raise my hackles with the proclamations that the proliferation of blogging, one-click publication, and democratic content creation, a la wikipedia, is the ruination of intelligent content. As a writer and a reader of online material, including blogs and wikis, I was annoyed at first, but I could see his point that with the lifting of the barriers that constrained mass publication to a select few there began an onslaught of content that had to be weighed for authenticity. As a teacher, it worries me that our students and teachers do not have the training to decipher this mass of new content. Our new role could be one that focuses less on technology, but more on how to deal with new strategies to manage the information that is being created, how to focus our attention on what matters most to us when we research.



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