Saturday, May 5, 2012

School Should Reflect Real Life

Many of us firmly believe in the potential that technology has to transform the teaching and learning cultures of schools.  Whether it is used to enhance lessons, assess learning, engage students, or unleash creativity, technology has a defined role in a variety of school functions.  Even though I am preaching to the choir, many schools still treat education as an effort in preparing students for a world that no longer exists.  Technology is viewed as either a frill, distraction, or a non-factor in improving student achievement.  The video below from Power On Texas provides a fantastic snapshot on how digital technology is transforming teaching and learning in Texas.

The video hammers home the point that for many students school does not reflect real life.  The question then becomes how do we move those schools that are the most irrelevant in terms of meeting the diverse learning needs of their students to being the transformation process? This, in my opinion, is pivotal if we are to truly begin to reform education in a way that is meaningful to our students.  Our students want to be creative, collaborate, utilize technology for learning, connect with their peers in other countries, understand the messages that media convey, and solve real-world problems.  Schools and systems of education that do not embrace digital learning and place a high emphasis on standardization will always fail to resonate with our students.


  1. Though i agree with the ideas and push the technology envelope in my classroom, I feel there are some mis-statements. In my experience (and many in my PLN), students "scary ability to use technology" does not seem to transfer to utilizing that technology for learning purposes. Also the use of the term "digital natives" is overstated and many high level "edtech presenters" have been saying we need to stop using that term.

  2. You might be interested in my reflections on running a project that attempts to integrate students' learning with their 'real lives', and the industry they may join when they leave school:

    The journey so far has been challenging, but also very rewarding. It's been interesting to see some students who had not performed as well in 'traditional' school flourishing in the new context, while others who had been successful in the traditional context finding the more integrated approach doesn't suit them so well.

  3. I agree with the statement made about the term "digital natives." The term is misleading. Its definition, moreover, is confusing, and varies among users. Given the misapplication and confusion over its meaning, why continue to use this term? The same is true of the term "digital immigrants,"and similar terms that attempt to categorize users of technology.

    1. Eric, pshircliff, Judy,

      I'm with all of you on the incorrect categorization of all people born either side of 1990 as either Digital Immigrants or Natives - many of us older than that are better users of digital technologies than many young people today. However, I think there is some relevance to understanding the world the so-called Digital Natives have come up in. Even the least technological know that "news" comes digitally, music is something you download, and a darkroom isn't for photography, it's just a room without a light bulb. It's informative for teachers' practice to have these distinctions in mind, all the while understanding that many students have different competencies with tech tools.

  4. Really enjoyed the video. I have been teaching tech for 6 years and flipped my science class this year. It has been a steep learning curve for my building and parents. I look forward to fine tuning next year.