*** This is the third of a set of 4 blog posts relating to how we can better meet the needs of the digital generation in our classrooms. ***
In my previous blog post, I argued for schools to move towards an integrated technology curriculum, rather than stand-alone, timetabled weekly ICT lessons that are often detached from content and learning in other subject areas. The danger with adopting a technology integration approach is ensuring that students get the same levels of access and exposure to technology. It is often very much depended on if the school has technology integration specialists available to teachers, the levels of ICT knowledge, skill and confidence possessed by individual class teachers and of course, accessibility to hardware.
How can we ensure consistent, measurable and high quality standards across classes with regards to technology use and integration? The problem is made a much easier for schools that have technology integration teachers and departments, but what about smaller schools that do not?
A guidance framework is required. Should the framework be an explicit set of measurable standards or descriptive target areas? The two best frameworks that I have found for technology integration are the International Society for Technology in Educations ‘NET standards’ and the “21st century fluencies” developed as part of the 21st century fluency project.
On the surface, both approaches have a lot in common. They are both designed to ensure that students are prepared for life in the 21st century, as well as addressing some of the challenges of the current time, such as e-safety and digital citizenship. Both place a huge emphasis on using technology appropriately and within context. Nurturing creativity is a recurring theme in both frameworks, as is the importance of collaborative learning, an area that has been enhanced hugely as the web continues to evolve. Critical thinking and problem solving are given a heavy emphasis throughout both frameworks, truly critical skills for digital natives entering a vastly different work place to the one we entered.
The frameworks do also have some significant differences. The NET standards devote an entre section on technology operations and concepts. This would certainly address some of my concerns outlined in the previous blog post regarding a lack of specialization. The 21st century fluencies do not address this. Instead they place greater emphasis on developing media fluency, devoting an entire strand to it. This is touched on in various sections of the NET standards but is not assigned the level of importance or profile in entertains in Ian Jukes document.
Although there are many similarities in terms of concepts and identified needs for students, the main difference between the documents are in their philosophical approach and how the main pillars of their frameworks are defined. The NET standards are far more well defined and easily measurable. However, it can be argued that applying them to the word makes them more restrictive and narrow in this fast changing world. The 21st Century fluencies are take a much more free, descriptive approach with less break down and definition of their pillars. They leave themselves much more open to interpretation and a planning / implementation/ evaluation framework would require significantly more time to develop.
Being relatively new to the technology integration approach in schools, I have found that NET standards far more practical use. However, the 21st century fluencies have forced me to think much more about my own philosophy, beliefs and approach to the integration of technology in the classroom. I will be using the NET standards as a starting point, but will also being taking a number of approaches and ideas for Fluencies, which may take on a more significant role as I grow in confidence and knowledge with regards to this field.
Are there any other alternative framework approaches that I have missed that you are using? Have you used the NETs or 21st century fluency approaches at your school? I would love to hear your views and opinions on either.