Eagle Update: Technology

Every year, school districts around the world talk about technology in the classroom, often in the context of “we want more.” Why is that? To date, there has been no quantifiable data that suggests more technology in a classroom equates to higher test scores. If not for testing, why do schools continue to ask for more?

Quite simply, education is not just about core academic programs like reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Schools are responsible for educating the whole student, which means teaching them skills that don’t directly fall under one of those categories.

Technology is no longer an optional aspect of our society. It is a fundamental component with an impact that will only increase over time. We need to provide our students with opportunities that go beyond texting, browsing the web, and using social media. We must teach them about online safety, respectful engagements, legal restrictions, digital footprints, separating the digital wheat from the chaff when researching, and more.

It is also important that we teach students concepts as opposed to specific apps or platforms. When elementary students are learning how to count and they are shown a picture of several apples, they are not being taught to count only apples, but anything in quantity. When students use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, they are learning how to use spreadsheets instead of just those applications. If they understand concepts, it will not matter if they encounter an iPad or Chromebook, or a Mac or Windows computer. Their ability to take something taught specifically and apply it abstractly will allow them to be the flexible learners demanded by our society.

It is critical that schools teach students about digital citizenship, too. (With technology embedded in most aspects of our lives, do we even need to call it “digital citizenship?” Perhaps we’re to a point where it’s really just teaching “citizenship.”) This isn’t something extra, like a separate course, but rather behaviors that are modeled by staff and incorporated into conversations about any lessons that involve technology. We are an increasingly global community connected by the internet, and we must help our students understand the benefits and risks associated with that reality.

Technology in classrooms is not about test scores. It is about stuffing our students’ life backpacks with the gear they’ll need to survive.