February 1, 2020: Education, Change, & The Digital World

I found this week’s discussion intriguing because it was so relatable! In my mind I kept going back to memories of learning how to make PowerPoint slides in elementary school, computer lab time and learning how to type on All The Right Type, and when the Motorola Razr cell phone came out. I also found myself thinking of my parents and how they interact with technology and how they have had to adapt over the years. My mom remembers the day her family got their first colour television set and that was a pretty advanced piece of technology in 1964. I’m sure she never dreamed of holding a button-less, AA battery-less, touch screen phone with access to this thing called “the internet!”

What sort of world are we preparing students for? What sort of education will be needed to adequately prepare students for the world ahead?

These questions made me think of the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant.” I can see why these terms are somewhat problematic. To me, they imply that some people were born knowing how to use technology without needing to be taught and others do. The reality is, everyone needs to be taught or learn how to live in the digital world. However, learning to live in a world that has become more instantaneous and technologically advanced happens at different life stages for different generations of people. While “baby boomers” are learning as adults, millennials have been preparing for this since they were kids. Although (in some cases) this makes millennials more knowledgeable, it does not make them more knowledge-able. Michael Wesch explains being knowledge-able is not just knowing a lot of information, it is understanding how to criticize, analyze, sort, create, and share new information. In order for students to be successful in today’s world, they need to know how to think, ask questions, and develop their own understanding of concepts. In the link above, Wesch notes that children enter schools as question marks and leave as periods. He explains that education needs to start inspiring questions and inquiry in order to generate life-long learners. That being said, I believe education needs to focus on inquiry-based learning opportunities and teaching students how to actively pursue their own questions by abandoning the idea that the “answer” will be handed to them. By taking an inquiry based approach, it provides opportunity for students to diversify their skill set. After viewing the Future Work Skills document, it is apparent that well-rounded and versatile employees with an understanding of “soft skills” (reading social cues, adapting, collaboration, etc.) are highly desirable. The document notes a variety of qualities, but the quality I feel that speaks the most to preparing students for the world and can be obtained through inquiry-based approaches in education is transdisciplinarity. This is defined as: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines. My favourite thing about inquiry is seeing my students surprise themselves with what they are able to do! My co-teachers and I are doing an inquiry unit on dance through the decades. The students research dances in a specific decade and then perform a dance they researched. There was some hesitancy at first from the students, but it has been so rewarding watching my timid students come out of their shells and collaborate with others and even take the lead in their groups!

Is it possible to change our educational system, or is it more likely that the system will be replaced by other forms of education? What does citizenship look like in this future reality?

I think that in some ways it is possible to change our current educational system, but I also think that as society evolves, there will be other ways to obtain an education. As a matter fact, I think it is already happening through online courses, tutoring, etc.

Some educators worry that there will be no students to teach anymore in the near future as technology might take over a lot of tasks and abilities that we have been teaching our students for decades. 

This quote resonated with me. I agree that technology may take on tasks that teachers traditionally have done for years, but I don’t think that teachers will lose their jobs completely to technology. Regardless of how technology evolves, I believe there is still something to be said for human interaction. Learning is all about connection and there is no kind of connection like human connection. We have all probably watched this Ted Talk with Rita Pierson, but she emphasizes, “The value and importance of human connection.” That is something that technology is not able to provide and I believe human connection is pivotal to a quality education. However, like everything in life, balance is key. Although human connection can never be replaced, I think that technology can make obtaining an education more accessible and manageable to both teachers and students. In our class, we have lots of people who work full-time, have children to raise, and other life commitments. By having online courses and the flexibility to learn wherever, parents can continue their educational journey. Whereas, this may not have been possible for some people just a few decades ago.

What does all of this mean for citizenship? I think we must bear in mind that now (more than ever before) digital citizenship and citizenship are no longer separate entities. How you present yourself through social media and online in general, can say a lot about you. Prior to taking this class and engaging in discussions around digital citizenship, I felt that digital citizenship was separate from how a person behaves as a citizen. I am seeing the only difference between these terms is their location and your actions online are just as public (if not more) as your offline actions.

What do you think about the future of education? Do you think jobs in teaching will eventually be replaced by various forms of technology? How so?

Thanks for reading!

-Leigh

4 thoughts on “February 1, 2020: Education, Change, & The Digital World

  1. Leigh, I share many of the same views you expressed in your post. I acknowledge that the world of education has a role to play in teaching digital literacy skills. I also acknowledge that there are many other contexts available for our youth to learn away from the formal setting of school. Our time with students is precious and I’m always reflecting on how to maximize the personal time we as educators have with our students. What science subjects/content should we be teaching? What math subject/content should we be teaching? Social Studies? Languages? Technology? Practical Applied Arts? Should we even be thinking of education at higher levels in subject silos? Perhaps a new structure should be explored that integrates subjects and helps students create their “own” curriculum or educational pathway though the use of technology? I don’t know what the world of education would have to look like for the needs of our current and future society, but I know that it doesn’t look like the world of education we have today. Thanks for the excellent read. You gave me excellent ideas for my own post.

    Liked by 1 person

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