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First, Understand The Basic Concept

You can practically hear Tom Hoffman screaming at the top of his lungs in a post at the EdTech Insider. The object of his wrath is a proposal to add “technology and information literacy” requirements to No Child Left Behind.

He makes some excellent points in the rant, but one in particular jumps out at me: “What happened to integrating technology?” What indeed. Of course, his question assumes people understand that concept of integration in the first place. It would seem they don’t.

When Virginia began it’s standardized testing program sometime in the 90’s, the state included a technology assessment for fifth and eighth graders. As you might expect, this was a multiple choice exam which boiled down to lots of vocabulary requiring little or no understanding of how to use computers for any real work.

Fortunately, the exam was dumped about the time NCLB came along, although I still hear from some in our district who wish the state would resurrect the test. I think they want the force that comes with a punitive exam to support their efforts to “teach technology” in the face of the other testing programs.

And therein lies the problem. We still have too many educators thinking the presence of computers in the classroom means they must “teach technology”. We are, or should be, teaching math, literacy, science, music, and a variety of other topics and skills using the best tools available. Including computers.

But the most disappointing part of this story is the source of the proposal that set Tom off. It comes from the CEO of ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), the largest advocacy group for technology in education. If their leaders are really that clueless, the effort to help teachers truly integrate technology into their classrooms has a very long way to go.

ed tech, iste, technology integration

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3 Comments

  1. KG

    OMG–have they gone totally berserk. I had issues with the NETS standards–and this goes against everything we, the underlings in our “overly large” school system have trying so hard for in the past few years.
    Have you ever played the card game FLUX? I think it may be an analogy for life in a school system. Each time a card is played is has the potential for changing the rules of the game or, just as frequently, changing the goal of the game.

  2. Actually, I wish we did “teach the technology” more as well, at least insofar as we’d teach some programming.

  3. Why does looking at information/tech skills as a separate entity mean they can’t be integrated into the curriculum as well? I’ve addressed this question before regarding information literacy skills in a column called Owning Our Curriculum. I’ll try to make the same points about technology literacy here that I did about information literacy in the column. (I have a tough time separating info and tech literacy anymore anyway).

    Info/tech literacy is a basic skill every student should master. It should be treated with the same importance as the other recognized basic skills of reading, writing and math.
    – Teaching basic skills as a separate, non-integrated subject is viewed as good educational practice. We have reading, writing and math curricula, teaching materials, courses, teachers and tests.
    – Basic skills should be “integrated” (or perhaps a better word is applied) across the curriculum. English teachers want social studies teachers to “teach” writing skills and practice writing, yes?
    – Integrating skills does not eliminate the need for basic skills curricula, teaching materials, courses, teachers and tests.
    – The public expects schools to be accountable for teaching basic skills. The current way of being accountable is through testing.
    – What gets tested, gets taught.

    I don’t see that integration and viewing information/technology as a separate set of skills to be taught are exclusive. If such skills are only integrated, nobody has responsibility for student acquistion of such skills and everybody has the opportunity to pass the responsibility on to someone else. More (including active links) at:

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