“Youngsters these days, they know how to use technology. They’ve been brought-up with it”. This is a phrase I hear all the time but it’s only partially correct. Most students in western school’s today have been brought up with technology spilling out of every drawer at home, or from locked school cupboards packed sky-high with devices. Yet most do not know how to use it effectively. Yes, youngsters can swipe/tilt/shake a tablet with envious ease and create text messages with such gusto that their fingers appear as a mere blur to the human eye. They all seem to have a homing device to the latest app and have completed all 2048 levels before most adults have even heard of it! It’s the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind youngsters’ use of technology, which is the purpose of this blog. My aim is not to stop them from enjoying and entertaining themselves with technology, but to equip them with the appropriate technological skills required in this technology dependent digital world.
Just a few years ago the phrases Digital Literacy and e-Learning were buzzwords that were tossed around school meetings. From my experience in other schools, these were often interpreted to mean ‘How to use PowerPoint’ or ‘Create a Game in ICT’. While these are indeed skills which require teaching, these terms mean much, much more. Back in 2008 we’d never heard of top jobs such as: ‘Android Developer’, ‘Data Scientist, ‘Cloud Services Specialist’ or, more worryingly, ‘The Beachbody Coach’ (LinkedIn). In other words, when we were teaching a group of 12 year olds in 2008 we couldn’t (or should that be didn’t) fully prepare them for the world outside the classroom, as we did not know how much the digital world would change (who had heard of Twitter in 2008)? While we cannot be soothsayers and second-guess the next big transformation in our digital lives, we do need to ensure that we are using technology (in whatever form it may take) and weaving it into our lessons for youngsters. Without effectively using technology on a regular basis we are failing to inspire, create confidence, promote e-safety and the mature use of technology for the next generation. Of course, somehow the adults will themselves need to be shown the technology, in order that they may relay it to our youngsters.
At the school where I work (as of 2014), I give weekly training sessions to all staff to show them how to effectively use technology in the classroom. This blog is an extension of those sessions and some of my suggestions will work for most, whereas some will only work for a few. What you are teaching or demonstrating to students will benefit to varying degrees from the use of technology. Therefore this is not a ‘how-to teach’ guide, but a series of ‘it worked for me’ demonstrations, discussions and, in some cases, admissions of failure! I hope that you, whether you are a student, teacher, parent or developer of educational technology, find something useful in these growing pages of advice.
As for the title of this e-Learning blog: Philanthropy is “the disposition or active effort to promote the happiness and well-being of others” (Oxford English Dictionary). I’ve replaced the ‘y’ with an ‘e’ as a nod to the widespread use of the letter ‘e’ as an indicator that something is electronic or digital.