I am pulling my hair out with admins about what exactly should be covered in an IT curriculum. Half of them can only see a PC or Mac as some kind of magical typewriter that does not require White Out and magically sends out letters without a stamp. I keep trying to tell them that in a few years even typing will be gone, as we know it. (Thumb typing maybe, but QWERTY touch typing is becoming less and less essential.) And all they want to see is PROJECTS...ah...and when do the kids actually learn to manipulate the MACHINE...global Windows skills and learning to SELF teach from the Windows system. "Oh the kids should master Office 2003"...really? That's nice...problem is Office 2010 is coming and 2007 was a shock to most of the admins whereas my kids had no problems because they have intuition and can self-teach in nearly any program. I am really thinking strongly of leaving this field because it's a daily battle.
You said it yourself at the end - the tools don't matter. Concern yourself with the products you want them to create and the tools issue will sort itself out. If they use Office 95, 03, 10 or LotusWorks it really doesn't matter. Give them a product and a possible list of tools that might help them and let them run with it. I had a ton of success last year letting my students make stuff and then showing them what I had made with the same tools. When they saw how much better my stuff was they realized how much more the programs had to offer and then went back and redid their projects. As you said, they'll figure it out.
I will, however, disagree with the keyboard going away comment. Even with voice rec there are going to be people typing at least for a decade. Things like coding and scripting will need keyboard inputs for quite some time as well. I'd still argue that typing is a very valuable and marketable skill to have.
Keeping current with hardware and software has always been and will continue to be a challenge for the teacher (me) and the administration we hope will pay for it. I teach Web Design, Digital Design and beginning keyboarding/compute & business skills and I want to upgrade software I got new a year ago! A Kev said "Give them a product and a possible list of tools that might help them and let them run with it."
I try to keep in mind what skills a student/graduate can bring to an employer. Besides reading, writing, locating information, etc. I try to prepare them for using the WWW and Internet Apps which will give them a leg up in the career world. So much is free online. Find or create research activities based on your curriculum and let them go. Their end result could be some form of presentation to you and the class (using a rubric helps set guide lines and grading).
I also agree that typing will not be going away anytime soon. Students still need to know how to type, format papers and letters, business e-mails and memos. Students need to know how to do that now to be successfull in college or in a business situation.
Don't quit. It is a daily battle but pick your battles. Students need to learn how to type and whatever tools you have, use them to the greatest potential. There are tons of grant opportunities out there to upgrade to the newer versions of software but teaching the basic concepts of formatting, spell checking, organizing their thoughts, etc. is what is important. Competitions are a great way to get the kids engaged with the typing speed. Hang in there, you are doing a great job!
Cheryl I am thankful for this nice reply post. I DO teach typing every week for about fifteen minutes out of 45 which is about right. My kids graduate in 8th grade at an average of 60 to 75 words a minute which is pretty adequate for the private high schools out there. They adore the scoreboard on freetypinggame.net...even the elem kids love doing that. My original posting implied that I don't think keyboarding is essential. It is. My venting was about my admins who want me to drop things like blogging, PhotoShop, MovieMaker, Blender and other digital media things because their vision of a PC or Mac is that it's good for WORD and maybe PowerPoint. Beyond that they see it as a game or something non educational. Pathetic. I am looking around for a new job outside of education. Been in this game thirty years and it just gets worse every year with incompetent admins.
I soooooo feel your pain as I have experienced similar frustration re Moodle and online learning. My issue is that some admin would rather spend huge money to buy something off the shelf for credit recovery than to let us create our own. Many have no real sense of what Moodle is and how we can create things which are free ( or only cost teacher time but are owned by the district). II am always doing something new. For example, this year I plan to turn my class into a hybrid class in Moodle and also use Twitter. Most colleagues and admin just look at me with fear or a blank stare... ?
I came from 18 years in business and changed careers to go into teaching and also get very frustrated. I am a big advocate for Obamas ed policies providing differentiated compensation for teachers who do more. etc. but see the lack of admin understanding and support in some cases as a real issue here.
Teachers are held responsible for most of the issues we have in ed and I sometimes think folks forget that WE work for people who really have great control over our success.
Our district just gutted our tech program. We have one business teacher in the high school/middle school and he has been cut to to part time. I am a social studies teacher using Moodle on my own site, etc working pretty much solo with only the help of our tech director. Most of my fellow teachers think I am nuts to do all of this "extra" work. Unlike the business world I came from, I am constantly frustrated by the lack of motivation to do a better job in this field. While I am constantly changing, differentiating, etc, I watch others do nothing new and receive the same eval and treatment. The admin goal in many cases is to make the auditors happy and check the "box" on state and fed requirements, with little focus on the world out there and the real skills our students need.
Many times I say, what the h....am I doing here?
My only advice is to think about what I try to focus on. I like to think that my prior experience gives me something to offer this field that is important, and so I try to push on and work to solve these problems. It is not easy in many cases but the kids make it worth it.
I have started several websites and try to relieve my frustration by helping others. I am actually thinking about writing a book. Why not? We can't give up....We can really help solve this problem.
Hang in there...take a deep breath...They may not know it but, they really need you. :)
Wow Sue. Finally I've found a kindred spirit. I came from thirty years of teaching music. I had embraced computers when I was a child, as my dad sat me in front of a UNIVAC when I was seven. So I am totally self taught from day one with the earliest computers. Our problem in our school is that nine out of ten of my colleagues are over fifty and refuse to learn anything but WORD and email. And even then most of them cannot attach a file, make a folder, or even realize the mouse has a right click feature...geesh. And when I try to train them they talk and gossip in the workshop or they bring out a notebook to write down step by step directions...I keep trying to tell them to "read the screen", think, See??? See how this command works the same in several programs?" That sorta thing. It's awful. So now the admins want me to do all sorts of dog and pony show projects making THEM look IT proficient while seeing the kids 45 minutes per week. IT IS ABOUT PROCESS NOT CONTENT. They don't get it. Things like "why do the kids need to learn PhotoShop and web making?" OMG I want to run away some days. But my kids are awesome and incredibly savvy. Last year I tried an experiment with GiMP (open source photo similar to PhotoSHop) Told 5th to 8th graders to just open it and mess with it..."I'll show you tricks next week"..."Today just mess around with it." OMG they went hog wild. I showed them some differences from PhotoShop the next week...basically we used it three weeks and were done. They had all self taught it. Well most of them anyway. I did show them some very important things to know. You should see some of the photo morphing they came up with and one kid even built new plugins and filters and sent them to the GiMP project: ....amazing!!! Admin asks why I wasted time on this.
Well, I am frustrated and I am not the tech person. I teach HISTORY, but practiced law for 18 years in corps as well as private practice. My world was excellence driven. You learned the new stuff to stay competitive or you were gone.
I am over 50 and self taught in everything except basic Powerpoint which I had to learn when I worked in a corporation. This is my 7th year in education. (Gave up six figures to have a life ofpurpose and often say to my self....I am crazy)
I think they need us. I have been doing some prof dev at some districts and my message is clear.....If I can do it, so can you. I redirect my message and energy to the kids and beyond the walls of the district. I do what I want pretty much in my classroom and just keep planting seeds.
My other site is www.spalmeronline.com. I am trying to use Moodle as a demo to have teachers and admin "experience" it in the presentation so they might see the power of it. It is tough because they have not taken online courses and don't understand the whole concept.
So...start writing down the stories for the book...We (the world) can write it together in a wiki. :) We are not alone. I am crazy enough to write to Obama and tell him that he needs to include the admin in the fix. The pressure on the teachers (which I personally am happy to deal with) is not the answer when the top is disconnected from the objective.
I am lucky to have a tech director who is always trying to help me or just listen to my frustration. We just gotta keep talking about it and moving forward. The kids totally get it!
OMG this is so true. A whole lotta idjits out there running schools who still think a PC or Mac is a cool typewriter that magically requires no white-out and magically sends out letters without a stamp!!! And they are making decisions involving thousands of dollars, involving professional development and the future of our kids. My own admin asked me the other day what web 2.0 was. I told her to use "the Google". If nothing else, this blog-wiki-site is gonna be really good for venting!!!!!
Next year will begin my 20th year as an administrator and I try to keep up with the changing times. I remember writing one of the first grants the State of Illinois offered that provided high speed Internet access for our school District. I wasn't sure what a LATA or router was but I stumbled through submitting it and our days of dial-up connections were in the past. I clicked on your link about Moodle and off I go this afternoon to learn something else new. You never can tell when your tremendous, positive influence might reach out and inspire someone ... thank you!
Perhaps social networking will be part of the swing that is needed to instill new thoughts and ideas into administrators? It certainly has the power to become an important part of the change process. I was thinking about how online textbooks will change the learning process. I sense we are currently on the edge of the cliff and may soon have many take the plunge. Think into the future .. ten years, fifteen years ... how this could play out in education. It is such an exciting time and I am thrilled to be a tiny part of it!
You warm my heart Jack with your compliment. Isn't it interesting in education how we so seldom receive compliments from others? Tomorrow is the second day of our beginning of the year administrative in service session. I will make a consertive effort to toss out compliments all day long!
http://www.bucketfillers101.com/home.html <-- What a terrific, positive staff boosting theme swept over our building just from one teacher purchasing a book ,sharing it with her peers and sixth grade students! We sent numerous "electronic" bucket filling drops for the rest of the school year!