Friday, February 10, 2006

Information Literacy In The News
A State of the School Address

A CNN article (Exam measures students' 'information literacy') posted earlier this week discusses the issue of teaching with technology by reminding us that, while skills are often picked up virally from student to student as they use computers in and out of the classroom, their ability to apply those skills deliberately and selectively is best taught, learned and measured in the context of the curriculum at large:

When it comes to downloading music and instant messaging, today's students are plenty tech-savvy. But that doesn't mean they know how to make good use of the endless stream of information that computers put at their fingertips.

Educators and employers call those skills "technology literacy," and while everyone agrees it's important to have, it also is difficult to measure.

Now a test that some high school students will begin taking this year could help.

The ICT Literacy Assessment touches on traditional skills, such as analytical reading and math, but with a technological twist. Test-takers, for instance, may be asked to query a database, compose an e-mail based on their research, or seek information on the Internet and decide how reliable it is...

Though few schools tend to use ETS-created standardized tests in their first year, if the ICT test seems useful -- whether it is used for in-house evaluation or becomes one of the many possible tests students take for college admissions -- today's middle school students will be among the first to face the exam at the high school level.

What does this mean for us? Happily, the very existence of this blog underscores our district's growing preparedness in this very area. In a million small ways, through our use of everything from Gradequick to the network to the newly-integrated teacher's lounge copier, our ability to think of and present technology as more than just a discrete subject has developed immensely here at WMS since September.

The blog is not enough, of course. As the ICT test reminds us, students develop true technology literacy only if they have experience using technology in context of their other learning. In the long run, it will not be enough to suggest that enough students take computer classes for us to assume that every class in this school will contain, at least via a single student, the skills we need to get through that class day.

Modeling technology use in appropriate, deliberate ways rests on all our shoulders.

But there's no need to feel pressured by the coming test, or what it represents. There are a billion small, easy-to-implement ways to integrate technology literacy into your classroom teaching.

Integrating thoughtful discussion about how and why a technology is used when we use it takes minutes, but the shift in thinking from skill-based tech use to true information literacy adds immense value to our existing units. As in all subjects, reinforcement of relevance, application, attitude and knowledge in context helps students retain those skills for the next go-round. Taking those few extra seconds to focus our use of technology has an insidiously wonderful effect on student habit development.

For assistance in planning your next use of technology -- or for thoughtful and personalized discussion of painless and easy-to-implement ways to add information literacy components to what you already do with technology -- as always, just email Joshua Farber, or stop in the Computer Lab to make an appointment. We're here to help you!


Blogger Magick said...

Thanks for bringing this article to our attention.

9:34 AM  

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