The essential question being: “How can we effectively, practically and authentically embed technology within our curricular areas?”, my first take from recent reading is about Geeking Out. Here is why.
Continuing going through Living with New Media from John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, I could clearly see the value of Geeking Out, being “the ability to engage with media and technology in an intense, autonomous and interest-driven way”. Fortunately it is losing its negative connotation(s) as one realizes that young people are actually pursuing their passion when geeking out, with great learning benefits along the way. And far from isolating them, it requires engagement but also practice and participation in specialized communities. Specialized knowledge networks will derive from these practices and will require from young people, besides accessing the information, to produce knowledge in order to contribute; at this level, lurking is not an option anymore, at least not for very long.
There is no doubt that some of our students are already committed to such networks. Sometimes we find out as they are able to make connections to academic content or are given the opportunity to share their high-level hobbies, through clubs, optional specialized classes or community meetings, or during a conversation.
This wealth of knowledge could be valued within the school, for example to help other students through mentoring programs, or to show how interest-driven learning can be gratifying.
On a personal level, as I am moving away from being mostly a lurker, on my way to becoming more involved and knowledgable in educational technology and digital literacy, reaching out to resource people within my own professional environment make sense, and in the process of looking out for people with a specific knowledge at one moment, it could be a colleague OR a middle or high school student. This is a huge shift in the way knowledge is transmitted: it went from linear with the ex-cathedra model (and no conversation allowed) to multi-directional.
“[…] we’re wise to keep our focus by asking whether we’re just playing with the edtech toys in our classrooms or truly using those edtech tools to leverage and grow student thinking and learning.” (Perkins)
Drew Perkins listed 15 Questions To Ask About Tech Integration In Your Classroom, and they are worth checking! Technology should not be used for the sake of it, but embedded authentically in the curriculum. Every teacher needs to remind him/herself that technology should be used to support student learning and not be the ultimate goal.
A great reference for the use of technology in teaching and learning is the ISTE Standards for students. Published by the International Society for Technology in Education, a nonprofit membership association for educators focused on educational technology, it lists skills and attitudes expected of students.
The standard that I can relate to directly as a librarian is number 3: Knowledge Constructor (see below), although, as explained in a previous post, the evolving role of libraries within the school makes obvious others too; for example number 4: Innovative Designer, or 6 with Creative Communicator.
These should be a great starting point to re-evaluate some collaboration projects with classroom teachers, or to build new ones.
Finally, one of my favorite recent read was Cofino‘s 3 Steps to Transforming Learning in Your Classroom: it is clear and very helpful.
NB: notice step 0 that acts as an important reminder!
Step 0: Focus on the Learning
Ask Yourself: What do you want students to know and be able to do?
Step 1: Make It Relevant
Ask Yourself: How can your students relate to this content in their daily lives or experiences?
Step 2: Real World Task
Ask Yourself: What would a professional in this field do?
Step 3: Authentic Audience
Ask Yourself: Who cares about this work?
There are clear connections between Step 1 and the concept of Geeking Out explained earlier: linking the technology-rich project on course content with their personal interests or passions will bring authenticity and, therefore, efficiency.
At this point in the course, the insightful readings, the studies and other articles and recommendations are clearly making me realized what the next steps in my teaching role I need to take. Although our library has been enhancing its offer to classroom colleagues and to individual students, the initiative mainly came from other librarians and/or the technology integrator. I am now looking forward to have a more meaningful role in the process and not only in delivering a tech-rich learning.