As a user and proponent of technology, it was intriguing to see the story of a technology-free school, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Silicon Valley. As the Waldorf School proves, 21st century skills (collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, etc.) can be taught without technology. Hands-on learning is great! But is it worth teaching knitting skills instead of something like digital citizenship? (After all, 78% of teens have a cell phone and 93% have access to a computer at home.)
I believe we should use technology alongside traditional methods of teaching — in whatever combination is necessary to benefit the students the most. Technology is an enhancer, not a replacer. Sure, my Careers students could learn about jobs through a textbook or research them with an encyclopedia, but it’s far more engaging to teach them with an interactive website that exposes them to information and videos about dozens of careers. It’s far more efficient to have them access the websites for the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook or O*NET OnLine to research an occupation that has piqued their interest. It’s far more practical to have them find a job application online (where many employers put their job openings) than to give them classified ads.
Technology can be an instrument through which students learn the skills they need to become innovators and contributors to the world at large (which is dominated by technology), and learn workplace skills as well. The world is better off with people who have these skills, not worse off. Technology has another benefit: a student or group of students can create a permanent record of what they learned — available for review at any time and to share with anyone — by filming videos, creating online comics, developing wikis, uploading photos of projects, creating podcasts, and so on. Technology has increased the opportunities for students to make personal and creative investments in their own education and share this with others.
Click here to how technology has redefined learning in my classroom.