Today I learned just how little I know about technology. Email, Facebook, Basecamp, Dropbox–ok, no problem. Twitter, HootSuite, PingFm, Foursquare…um…huh? It was both exciting and a bit mind-numbing being introduced to so many technology platforms. Somewhere between creating a Foursquare login and “retweeting” to a Twitter post, I felt a strong nostalgic pull for the good ole’ days when granite met paper. Towards the end of the session when our instructor encouraged us to put it all together in “HootSuite,” I panicked and decided to reply to a text message instead: “talk tom? 2 busy 2 talk 4 now,” I wrote with confidence. But I didn’t feel confident for long. We still had two more (and completely foreign) platforms to discuss. Ah! I started wondering if all of this focus on technology was really necessary. Is it worth the headache (and steep learning curve) to tweet and retweet?
Connie Yowell, the MacArthur Foundation’s Director of Education, would answer with a resounding “yes.” In fact, she argues that digital technologies not only help us teach students in the classroom but help us “re-imagine learning” as a school. She goes on to say, “In the digital age, the learning environment is turned on its head — it’s no longer just the dynamic of the student, the teacher and the curriculum. Today, kids learn and interact with others — even from around the world — every time they go online, or play a video game, or engage through a social networking site.”
Yowell has a point. If we truly want to connect with our students technology must be part of our school culture. If we want GCE students, teachers, staff, partners to be “global citizens” in the 21st century we must all work to learn the intricacies of what it means to be digitally literate.
I look forward to our next steps in determining how we will use Facebook, blogging, and perhaps even tweeting to academically and socially engage with each other…