Monday, January 14, 2008

ICTs: Considerations of current practice (1)

Smolin, L., & Lawless, K. (2007). Technologies in schools: Stimulating a dialogue. In L. Smolin, K. Lawless, & N. Burbules (Eds.). (2007). Information and communication technologies: Considerations of current practice for teachers and teacher educators (pp. 1-10). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

The volume will examine the gap between the promise of technology and its current reality in schools. It is written for classroom teachers and teacher educators, because it is through these two groups in particular that this gap can be closed. Authors identify the issues, the problematics, and the considerations that teachers and teacher educators should consider as they plan and implement uses of ICT with their students in mind, and address the integration of technology in school curriculums, as well as afterschool programs, instructional technology, professional development, information literacy, and the philosophical and pedogogical concerns associated with technology.

Tech in schools: Stimulating a dialogue (p. 1)

While new ICTs have afforded new opportunities to improve efficiency, exponentially increase access to info, and expand the notion of global citizenship, they have also caused many researchers and educators to rethink what it means to be literate in this post-typographic world (Leu & Kinzer, 2000).

Early pressure for integrating tech in schools came from contexts external to the school-most notably from the business sector (Scott, Cole, & Engel, 1992)...But because business and school contexts are quite distinct, technology became added to the school curriculum rather than integrated within it.

Although tech was being used within classrooms, it was still employed as a separate productivity tool, often replicating older forms of info transfer...However, tech can be more than a tool. It can also be a medium for reshaping the way in which we access info, communicate with one another, and learn in school.

Tech-based reform is esp. challenging because it is a multifaceted endeavor:
  • Multiple professional communities: different professionals representing different discourse communities (Computer scientists, researchers, school administrators, teachers)
  • Multiple theoretical perspectives
    a. Sociocultural: learning as a social practice through which the learner plays a central role (Vygotsky, 1978; Wells, 1999; Wenger, 1999)
    b. Curriculum studies: what is important for students to understand and be able to do (Bruner, 2004; Wraga, 2002) as well as the role tech should play in 21st-century learning
    c. Teacher education: importance of preparing teachers to implement technology (Pellegrino, Goldman, Berthenthal, & Lawless, in this volume, p. 52)
  • Multiple strategies
    Technology is often poorly integrated with other classroom activities (Gewertz, 2007). Rather than using technology to transform classroom pedagogies and engae students in a knowledge-based world, it if often used to merely replicate the traditional curriculum (Cuban et al., 2001) - A gap between the promise of ICT and its current reality in classrooms. We are neither harnessing the power of technology nor appropriately leveraging it to meet the needs of 21st-century students.
    Dialog across multiple groups, perspectives, and domains is key to successful reform efforts in the future.
4 themes toward using ICT for transformative purposes
  • Tech in and out of school: students use tech more outside school than in (Gewertz, 2007 & Mark Prensky, in Gewertz)
  • Policy making: influence on how tech is used in schools (Haertel, Means, & Penuel, in this volume)
  • Diversity (digital divide): The varied tech experiences of teachers and students (Jones' chapter); Students' cultural diversity
  • Teacher development
  • Bruner, J. (2004). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
  • Coiro, J. Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D. J. (in press). Handbook of research on new literacies. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38 (4), 813-834.
  • Gewertz, C. (2007, March 29). Outside interests: Young people typically plug in to new technology far more often on their own time than in school. Education Week, Technology Counts 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2007, from
  • Leu, D. J., Jr., & Kinzer, C. K. (2000). The convergence of literacy instruction with networked technologies for information and communication. Reading Research Quarterly, 35 (1), 132-141.
  • Scott, T., Cole, M., & Engel, M. (1992). Computers and education: A cultural constructivist perspective. Review of Research in Education, 10, 191-251.
  • Vygotsgy, L. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: Toward a sociocultural practice and theory of education. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wraga, W. (2002). Recovering curriculum practice: Continuing the conversations. Educational Researcher, 31 (6), 17-19.

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