I can remember standing around a computer at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1995, in a library, watching a VGA, full color, manuscript of a score load, line by line, at the blazing rate of 2400 bps; it took five minutes. Surrounded by doctors and graduate students, the room was abuzz with the excitement of such, alien-technology, come down to Earth. Today, I wouldn’t wait five seconds for that document to load and if it didn’t load, I’d give up and find it on some other web site….
While there is still great value in classroom instruction, the teacher of technologies must not be a relic.
I’m 34, I’m surrounded by 19-22 year olds. They banter about new technologies every day of every week. The technologies I learned about ten years do not exist today in their same forms. As a matter of fact, ten years ago the Internet was in its infancy and the idea of broadband was a dream -even for the governments. The only way to understand what the younger generation understands simply by being “the younger generation” is to become a part of their culture. Immersion into their “world” is necessary for fluency with regard to understanding today’s technologies. I’m not saying the older generations can’t “keep pace”, I’m saying that they have to “keep pace” if they want to be in the race.
While there is still great value in “old-school” classroom instruction, the teacher of technologies, whether present or future, must not be a relic; they must not become stagnant and content with their current knowledge of technologies (at whatever level). Technology curriculums should be programmed to be modified. The expert technology teacher should be able to handle change and be able to discern, in an instant, the legitimacy of the onslaught of new “information” being presented, daily, to them and to the world. They need to be able do judge effectively whether or not that “new” information is “good” information and a worthy pursuit. Active research is required daily, not only in the classroom, but FOR the classroom.
Fluency can only be gained by continual experimentation with the technology as it evolves.
The days of mastering an electronic technology are through, not because the idea behind the technology has died but rather because of the speed at which the very technology evolves. I’m not advocating an attitude of disdain and hopelessness, but rather one of zeal and inquisitiveness. We must not hang on to the old ways of learning and teaching things, but embrace the possibilities of new ways, vast as they may seem to be.
An initial time investment into learning a new electronic technology, whatever it may be, is not enough to sustain you with it and make you fluent at it. Fluency can only be gained by continual experimentation with the technology as it evolves. Anything else will put you at a severe disadvantage in the short time to come. Fluency is in fact, fluid.
Yes, there are times to keep the old and shun the “new”, but we must remain vigilant for that time when we can glean something from the “new” that will make our students learn better and us better teachers. Maybe that old pencil and chalkboard is the “way to go”, but there was a time when both that chalkboard and pencil were new “technologies”.
We must not be “hoarders” of information, but rather ambassadors of it. That is the very reason we chose to teach, isn’t it? With the advent of the amazing electronic technologies we have already, we can help to bridge the gap between the “have” and “have-nots”.
Tomorrows Educator of Technologies will NOT be a technologist, they will, in fact, be the very teachers in every classroom, teaching every subject -no matter what the discipline. They will decide what new technologies to integrate into the classroom and what “tried and true” ones are still the best answer. This will not only be true in the educational field, but almost every field imaginable. It has already happened, its always happened; the difference is now we’re using electronic technologies and the dichotomy between those that use them and are fluent with them vs. those that don’t and aren’t are easily discerned.
We are riding the crest of what “will be” in education. Yes, every generation has probably said that exact statement in their time, but how many of those generations had the ability to say it, have it automatically translated into 100+ languages and turn it into a podcast that could be sent to millions of unknown people from a device that fits into the palm of your hands? A run-on sentence? -try to “keep pace”.