Friday, October 19, 2007

Concerns over preparing students for the 21st century, but who is preparing the teachers?

I believe that education worldwide is still in a transition period moving from text book to computers.....but how long will this transition take?

I always find it ironic that many of our classrooms today still require our students to sit in rows, focus to the front, and sit still. As soon as students leave the classroom they are immersed back into a multi-sensory world.

While many students sit down in the evening to do their homework… may consist of a combination of text messaging, doing research online while typing their paper either on their computer or in an online collaboration document, playing a multi-user online game and listening to music through a portable device or from their computer.

How is training/updating IT skills going to be addressed for new and existing teachers?

Teachers are overwhelmed with the demands of curriculum, pastoral care, supervision during lunch, evening events, etc.... Now we expect teachers to be technologists as well. Where are they going to get the understanding, skills and stories required to lead a net generation to a competent level of IT literacy?

Google talks about 'cloud computing' which is the "ability to access and work on files any time, anywhere, in the diffuse atmosphere of cyberspace." (Times Online) If you asked a teacher today what cloud computing many would know? Educators need to be supported with these stories and knowledge so they can help students understand the "whys" of technology.

Statistics shows that there will not be enough IT workers available for the market - then I say it is time many IT companies (large and small) look around, find your nearest public school, walk through those doors and offer to help those teachers to connect and build the bridges and stories needed to educate the Net Generation. Many companies have made a huge commitment to education such as Adobe, Apple and Microsoft. But we need the local IT companies to help build a network of support for their neighbourhood schools.

Many teachers are struggling and trying to learn the technology along side the students as they do not have the time or support to do anything else. There needs to be a general level of IT literacy for all teachers and then IT specialists that are able to take students to a higher pathway.

School administration needs to understand the importance of ICT and not to use it as a "time table filler" for any teacher. ICT is not a "hobby program" and is a curriculum that needs to be taken seriously. In fact, there are many countries that are doing just that. They are spending millions of dollars to train and support their teachers and teacher specialists.

A life cycle for some new IT companies/ideas - birth to death - is presently around 18 months. What are we doing to ensure our students have the skills to evolve and reshape concepts....look for doors that are open when many close?

At the end of the day, those countries that are willing to take the time NOW to invest in their teachers in the K-13 sectors, are those countries that are going to be ready to be an IT powerhouse in several years.

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