I recently ran across this brilliant blog posting as I was browsing Reddit, and I knew I needed to share it. The author shares a mock test as a way of illustrating the major gaps in how we teach preservice teachers about technology. The sins he describes are not at all exclusive to McGill University; all too often, education schools resist change, or misplace their focus when it comes to teaching about technology. He offers a set of recommendations for universities that I couldn’t agree with more, that includes things like teaching about net neutrality, basic hardware usage (I am REALLY tired of seeing professors at conferences who can’t hook up a projector), closed vs. open source software, and the cloud. The only thing I would add to this list is that while all of these things are critically important, we also have to teach new media literacy. Both teachers and students need the new media literacy skills named by Jenkins:
Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details. Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.
Education schools aren’t exactly known for being cutting edge, which is a very sad thing. We’re supposed to be the leaders in learning, and yet we often have to be bashed over the head with something before we change. ALL schools of education should be teaching these skills to ALL of their students, not as an elective, but as a required course.