Still reflecting upon the “Opportunity for All” reading and the statistics revealed about “technology and learning in lower-income families,” I thought about the lack of experiences these children have in developing their digital skills and literacy, and the learning curve they need to become just as efficient among their wealthier peers who do have “home access.”
My college students today often ask me where I learned my skills when I help them with formatting their MLA papers, curriculum vitae, or resume. They think I am crazy when I use the formatting markers, wondering what am I looking at. They are often impressed at my typing speed and that I know to backspace and correct something misspelled without every looking up at the screen. However, these are what I consider basic technological skills that all students should become proficient in, but they are not proficient in them because they never been explicitly taught to them or had opportunities to use them repetitively, to the point where it becomes second nature. We see this type of efficiency in children who are exposed to technology and at a young age, and constantly playing with their parents’ tablet or cell phones. They know how to navigate these devices, how to get to their games, add new apps, rearrange apps on the screen, and best yet…click/slide the decline/reject button when a call is coming in.
My goal is to get them beyond the basics. I want them to know how to search efficiently online. It shouldn’t take for them to get to grad school (if they make it there) to have an awesome librarian teach them this skill set! I don’t want them to rely on me to research their potential majors and 4-year institutions for admissions. I don’t want them to rely on me to look up information online for them. It’s frustrating to me when students will ask me a question that I help them find online, and expect me to print it out for them. I tell them “no.” I tell them to go to our computer lab (directly across my office) and try finding it again, then print it out. If they have a hard time, then come back and I’ll show them again. I am not always going to be there for them. Once they transfer to the university, I will not be there to look up/find deadlines, required class for major, or checklist. Whether or not they’re too lazy to do the legwork, they need the practice “searching on the Internet” regardless. They need to become more efficient and tech savvy, so that this process doesn’t hinder them from their learning.
In reading this article, I was reminded of the ISTE Standards that we read earlier this quarter and happy to see that there is such a thing; but is it implemented in schools?
Our students are at the center of everything we do. As educators, our foremost goal is to prepare them for their future. The ISTE Standards describe the skills and knowledge they need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital society.