Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tech in the Curriculum

Thanks to @tomwhitby. His blog is great and this post is an off-shoot of his latest post.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with teachers from my district to go over the English Curriculum. We wanted to make sure our curriculum matched up with the State Standards. We were also going to slim it down a bit and tweak here and there.

One big debate arose over Tech use. A small portion of the group (teachers teaching for 10 years or less) thought that including language in the curriculum that would require teachers to use Web2.0 tools in the clasroom. The rest of the group (teachers of over 10 years teaching experience) thought this was unfair for those teachers who can't use these tools. We argued that if these teachers do not get on board with tech, their students will be the ones hurt. By adding this language to the curriculum, this is the only way to ensure, and hold accountable, the teachers who refuse to look at the new educational tools out there. We ended up adding language that requires a multimedia/multi-genre web-based project for grade 9 and 10. It was a good day for tech teachers everywhere.

What are your thoughts? Should tech be written into Curriculums to force teachers into joinin the 21st Century, or should those teachers be left alone to explore tech on their own?


  1. It should definately be written into the curriculum. There are a number of reasons I feel this way:
    1) We need to prepare our students for their futures. Even if we are teaching the current technology, it will likely be outdated by the time that they enter the work force. We would be leaving them at a severe disadvantage by not including technology skills in their education.
    2) By having technology written into curriculum, we are ensuring that teachers who are not changing with the times are forced into change.
    3) By having tech written into curriculum, we will be holding our boards accountable for providing this technology to our teachers.

  2. I love point three. Sometimes the boards of the world say we should do "X", but never supply the tools to accomplish it. With a board approved curriculum, we demand the support necessary to prepare our students for the life outside of the classroom. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Tech should be an integral part of the curriculum as it is in life. One thing to consider is access to technology. Not all schools have the budget ot the trained staff for this.

  4. An English curriculum might well be thought of as a tool for framing the literacy skills that students need for their future. Don't worry about writing technology into the curriculum, worry about the development of these literacy skills. The tools will come and go but the need to address those skills is more important.

  5. In NYS, we are eagerly anticipating the announcement of our newly revised ELA standards which promise to contain "Presenting" and "Reviewing" as additions to the traditional read, write, speak and listen. The intent is to integrate technology as appropriate and to teach critical media literacy.

    That being said, while I am all for integration of technology, I think that it needs to be done in response to a learning need rather than just be about the tool. For example - if a teacher wants her class to collaborate with another class, using a wiki to share research or get writing peer-reviewed would be ideal.
    The best way (IMHO) to get those who discourage the language you suggest on board is to see what they would like to improve in their classrooms and find the tool that fits.

  6. As a pre-service teacher having just completed my internship I feel that it definitely needs to be written into curriculums. I feel that having to cover all there is in the curriculum is already a tough job and without it being added teachers may leave it out due to other pressure. I hope to see it included and have all teachers change with the everchanging technological world.

  7. I don't know how difficult it is for you to revise your curricula. At my school, it is so breath-takingly complicated that it only gets done every ten years or so. I could see us adding technology-specific items to a curriculum, then see it become absurdly outdated by the time we revised again. (I do like the "you mandated this in our curriculum, so please pay for it" argument, though.)

  8. But the tech shouldn't BE the curriculum, it should be integrated so as to enhance meaningful learning. It's just as important to foster thinking and collaboration, for instance. I agree with what Theresa said!
    One way to foster change in the reluctant teachers is by 'show and tell' sessions. We have found that when teachers share examples of how they have integrated technology (just 5 minutes each!), others want to get onboard too!

  9. I agree with whatedsaid!

    As an instructional technology specialist, I emphasize that it's all about learning the core curriculum. I support teachers in finding the best tool or method to meet their learning objectives.

    In my district, we have technology benchmarks; however, no technology curriculum. It is expected that students over a certain grade level span will meet these benchmarks. There is no prescription.

    This is why flexible, in time support and professional development for technology are key.

  10. There some great points being made here.

    Theresa G

    In MI, we have parts of the curriculum that spell out presenting as a key benchmark. We felt that students need to experience the different types of mediums out there, but would not be able to if teachers would not learn and use these tools themselves. We were vague in the curriculum to allow teachers to choose the tools they feel comfortable with. The teachers are going to have to learn sooner or later. For the students, we think it needs to be sooner.

  11. Woodenmask,

    Our curriculum only comes up every 5 years, but much is rarely changed. We thought it was a good time to add some tech language in and most people are coming around to the idea.

  12. whatedsaid and mssanderson_ITS,

    In debating this point with fellow teachers, we wanted to make sure we had the students in mind when were thinking of adding anything to the curriculum. Avoiding something because it would be too tough on the teachers is not a way to write a curriculum. We stayed away from specific tech. That is, we did not say that all students have to have used PowerPoint in a class or that all students should create a document using a wiki. We wanted to leave it up to the teacher to decide what would be best for their lessons. They still get to choose how they will use tech in their class. The goals of their lessons will be the same, we are just asking teachers to open the door to new ways to deliver the information.

    In the English Curriculum, we state that there should be a minimum number of formal essays, research papers and impromptus. The Curriculum does not dictate what the topics of these essays need to be, but that they need to occur at some point during a semester. We realize that students should leave all English classes with at least “X” amount of writing. Blogging, discussion boards and Wikis, to just name a few, are the next step in writing and we need to encourage teachers to start using these tools in the classroom. Colleges are already using these tools and HS students need to be prepared to use them.

    As to 1on1 training with teachers, I think that is the best way to educate them. That is what needs to happen after tech is placed in the curriculum. I’ve watched for a few years now as Smartboards and Document Cameras go unused or underutilized. If there is nothing to make teachers to start looking at new avenues to disseminate information, why would they? (Obviously we are talking about the teachers that are content to do the same old and collect a check) A gentle nudge might be what some teachers need to get them to try these great tools that can help some students master skills they might normally struggle learning.

    In the end, the thing that needs to be remembered, is that this is about the students. Students need to be introduced to new forms of tech. They need to be ready for college and the business world and these tools can do that. Also, there are many students out there that excel at using these tools and it would be a disservice to not allow them the chance to show what they learned in a way that best fits them.

  13. Good for you for being purposeful in your reflection on the curriculum. I think that the addition will benefit your students greatly...and really, isn't that the whole point? Nicely done.

  14. Yes it should be written into the curriculum for sure! However, teachers who are not comfortable with it should be given support, whether it be an online course, or some team teaching, or some hands on time with someone who is comfortable and willing to show how/what can be done.


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