Tag Archives: technology

Are you a technologically literate teacher?

blog post title against collage of technology graphics

Could you, for example, walk into the office of a typical small business somewhere in America — a construction company, for example, or an independently-owned convenience store with fewer than 10 workers — and begin work immediately doing routine work, such as answering the phone and taking messages, using the office computer for recording receipts and disbursements, and faxing documents to state agencies?

Naturally, you’ll say you’d need some training. That’s undoubtedly true.

What’s also true, however, is that small business people expect college-educated people to know or be able to pick up very quickly skills that people with a high school education do every day.

I believe that being able to pick up new skills quickly is going to be the most sought-after attribute of 21st century workers.

The last time I tried to hire an editorial assistant for my publishing business, I asked people who’d lived in this community all their lives for suggestions. An ex-teacher was highly recommended.

She was interested in the work and the pay until I told her we use Open Office rather than Microsoft products because that’s what my customers use.

That was a deal breaker.

“I’d have to go take a course to learn how to use it,” she said.

The woman might have been a wonderful teacher, but she didn’t have the technology skills for an entry-level job in a small business.

If you have to go take a training course in a software program before you can use it, you can’t handle an entry-level job in a small business.

Folks, one word processing program is pretty much like another.

And if your skills are up to the challenge of the entry-level work in 2017, can you honestly say you’re able to prepare your students for today’s workplace, let alone tomorrow’s?

Related reading:

Work Experience as Education

The Collaboration Model for Entry Level Jobs

Dear Applicant: The reason you weren’t hired.

 

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Filed under Educational technology, Lifelong learning

Technology and skills: Today’s best BOGO deal

In the lead up to Black Friday, my inbox was full of messages from technology companies that don’t want me to miss out on the greatest deal ever—usually theirs.

Photo of classroom computers overlaid with "Is this technology a good deal?"

To get a really good deal on technology, buy one product that gets you two benefits:

  1. It’s technology you can use now.
  2. It’s technology that will allow you to develop a skill you can use later.

Technology you can use now but which doesn’t help you develop new skills isn’t worth what you’ll pay for it.

And you’ll probably never get around to learning to use new technology for which you have no immediate use, so that’s not worth having at any price.

The buy-two-benefits principle holds whether you’re buying technology for yourself or selecting technology for your classroom.

 

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What is the world coming to?

I’ve been doing some catch-up reading in my RSS feeds this morning.

Among other things, I read a piece about how a new generation of web designers has emerged, people who were moved from a non-website job in their companies into web work because of a “natural flair” for web projects and their companies’ desire to have web work done faster and cheaper.

The newbies aren’t  detail people honed their skills by years of work.

Those folks who sweat over making sure sites were “compliant across every browser from an x-box to an iPhone” are looking for work—and not finding it.

Web designers who can make shoddy look good are trending.

What is the world coming to?

I also read an article in eCampus News about how America’s Generation Z—today’s school-age population—has no interest in having an IT career.

Generation Z wants their devices to work flawlessly, the help desk to help when they need it, but they don’t want to do any of that work themselves.

That attitude is a problem because without IT people, schools, healthcare, garage doors, and fuel pumps won’t work.

And without IT people, the next generation of devices won’t get off the drawing boards.

What is the world coming to?

More important, are we educators part of the solution or are we contributing to the problem?

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Filed under Alternatives to college

Research: Little Writing Instruction Even in Best-Regarded Schools

The years between 1979 and 2009 were a time of great changes in education. They saw the development of new technologies for writing, research, and instruction; a growing demand for evidence-based practice; and imposition of high stakes testing.

To see how the teaching of writing in America’s middle schools and high schools changed in those 30-years, Arthur N. Applebee and Judith A. Langer of the State University of New York at Albany studied 20 schools chosen because of their reputations for excellence in the teaching of writing. The researchers looked not only at the English classes in those schools, but also math, science, and social studies.

The researchers found that in schools with excellent reputations for teaching writing:

  • English teachers are doing a better job of teaching the writing process today than 30 years ago.
  • Students write more for their English classes than for any other subject.
  • Students write more for their other subjects combined than they do for English.
  • Only 19% of writing assignments were a paragraph or more; the remainder were “writing without composing” activities such as fill-in-the blanks.
  • Writing counts less than multiple choice or short answer questions in assessing performance in English even on locally-created tests.
  • Other than math classes, less than a third of classrooms studied use any technology.
  • When technology was used, it was usually used by the teacher.
  • Roughly 6 in 10 students hand-write their first drafts; only 23% at middle school and 42% at high school composed first drafts on computer.
  • Outside of science classes, embedding media into writing is rare.
  • Collaboration on writing projects is rare outside English classes where fewer than ¼ of students collaborate with peers for editing or responses.
  • Contemporary teachers’ notions of good instructional practice for teaching writing are research-based.
  • Contemporary teachers’ instructional practices mimic those of 1979, focusing on short-answers and copying from the board.

To find out what the authors think is responsible for these conditions in schools with reputations for excellence in teaching writing and how the conditions are likely to influence implementation of the Common Core State Standards, see the full article:

Applebee, Arthur N. and Judith A. Langer. “A Snapshot of Writing Instruction in Middle Schools and High Schools.” English Journal 100.6 (2011): 14–27. http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/EJ/1006-jul2011/EJ1006Extra.pdf

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Filed under Teaching writing