A digital skill set for educators

Ernie blogs on an interesting piece by Laura Turner, “20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have.” As Ernie notes, Turner’s links point to valuable (and, I hope, persistent) resources and tutorials for understanding and acquiring these skills.

Turner describes the list as “comprehensive,” which is a little bolder than I would be given the rapid pace of change in the digital world, but it’s certainly a fine starting place. I might replace the PDA item with one on multimedia authoring, though. Are there certain core concepts involved with manipulating audio, video, and still images that could usefully be aggregated? Web 2.0 means we’ll have to answer that question sooner rather than later. Anecdotal evidence: this year my first-year students were markedly more web-pervaded than my fourth-year students. That doesn’t mean they were more sophisticated in their thinking, it just means their horizon of expectations was in a different place–a place we should be prepared to journey to ourselves. Quick, trivial, but perhaps telling example: many of my seniors didn’t know about Bananaphone, but most of my freshmen did. Why? Because the younger students live on, and in, the Web.

8 thoughts on “A digital skill set for educators

  1. Great to hear from both of you, Dolen and Steve.

    Point well taken about Web 2.0, Steve, although these resources may help some folks get fully up to speed on 1.0 stuff. Education is always uneven, at least in my case: I’m always backing and filling. What the list doesn’t do is gesture very much in the direction of Web 2.0, and it should. Thanks for the link to the weblogg-ed site–I’d been hoping you’d come through with that one for me. 🙂

  2. Yes, I agree with you Gardner that education is uneven. I was actually immediately thinking of sharing Turner’s list with colleagues/friends who might not even have these basic Web 1.0 skills. There are still some folks who are afraid to use Blackboard! It seems to me that you have to try Blackboard in order to realize its shortcomings. This link to 2.0 technologies is great. This is something to share with the students who are already Web 1.0 savvy.

  3. I think you’re right, Dolen. Example: one of those scanning links took me to a resource I first saw when it first went up, in 1997! The fact that the resource is still there (and has clearly been worked on right up to the present) suggests that there’s still a need for Web 1.0 skills. We certainly need to help bring our colleagues up to that point at least. I do think the site would be richer if it didn’t stop quite so short of Web 2.0–or if it showed more connections, more paths forward. I don’t want my colleagues thinking that they’re all done once they’ve mastered digital cameras, PowerPoint, and scanning. I also don’t want them to throw up their hands in despair because of a never-ending list of new gadgets to master (although the truth these days isn’t too far from that).

    I suppose at bottom I want to explore ways in which these technologies are all facets of the same jewel, not isolated tasks. The challenge is to master digital fluency. Digital fluency means perceiving commonalities and connections. For example, editing audio and editing video are different–and the same. Or to put it another way, learning one language in the digital world ought to make it easier to learn another, just as it does in real life–if my metaphor isn’t strained too far.

  4. Gardner,
    Can I briefly challenge the idea that knowing about Bananaphone necessarily means that those students live online more? It seems to me that for all that we talk about the interconnectedness of the web that people get stuck in particular “channels” or, maybe more accurately, networks of common sites they keep going back to that shape what they (and their on and offline friends) see. One network of common sites might overlap some with another network at a few points, but wouldn’t have to. So, in other words, the fact that your seniors didn’t know about Bananaphone might simply be a result of their network of common sites being different than the network of the freshmen in your class. It seems that would be even more likely for something as faddish as Bananaphone.

    As for the web 1.0 versus 2.0 distinction, I appreciated the links both to Turner’s piece and Will R.’s PPT. For all its limitations, Turner’s piece offers a number of helpful resources to those of our colleagues who haven’t gotten Web 1.0 down yet. [I really like (and yet am worried by) Will R.’s characterization of the “other digital divide,” that between teachers and students.]

    It seems to me what’s especially valuable about Will R’s piece is the suggestion that what I see as our core mission (at least in the liberal arts) still is needed, namely to teach students to read carefully and think critically, to process information, and to sift the good from the bad in an online information flood which makes it harder to tell them apart than ever before.

    My two cents,

  5. Thanks for that thoughtful comment, Jeff. I will stick with my argument, though, because it’s rooted in an idea of network culture. It’s true that people do get stuck in networks of common sites, but what’s fascinating to me is that for all the fragmentation and balkanization possible on the web, certain phenomena like Bananaphone or the Numa Numa Dance become common knowledge to almost everyone who lives within the medium of the web. To put it another way, Bananaphone is a “Gilligan’s Island” theme for folks who hang out on the Internet for much or most of their social and entertainment contact. I think my older students were just over the line of the divide between those who go to the Internet to find or do something and those who go to the Net to meet their friends and do the equivalent of watch TV or listen to music together.

    I think the fundamentally and pervasively social part of online digital interaction is part of a new world I’m just coming to grips with myself. My parents thought of a telephone, where I thought only of the voice on the other end (and didn’t say “other end of what?”). I think of a computer and a network connnection. My kids think only of presences, persistent and otherwise, in a para-world. Or at least that’s my take on it today.

    I think the digital divide between teachers and students is a very serious issue. We don’t need to conform entirely to a world made of informal IM-speak and Continuous Partial Attention. But we need to see what’s valuable, and what’s possible, on the other side of that digital divide, and just as you say very well, we need to teach our students how to do those evaluations for themselves.

  6. Pingback: Gardner Writes » Blog Archive » Web as Cultural Commons

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