The following is the program description and proposal for my upcoming “conversation” at Educon 2.5 in Philadelphia, January 26th.
You Say You Want Tech Standards?
Here Come the NITS!
The ISTE Nets (tech standards) are approximately a decade old. They’ve produced endless meetings, cliché-laden documents and breathless rhetoric, but no perceptible increase in student computer fluency or teacher competence. Rather than standardizing, it’s time to amplify human potential with computers. A new diet of computing is required for learners.
There are a lot of computers in schools, but not a lot of computing. The ISTE Nets and their state and local spawn offer an imagination-free vision of school technology use that hardly justifies the investment let alone realizes the potential of computers as intellectual laboratories or vehicles for self-expression. The current crop of technology standards form the basis, at best, for a form of “computer appreciation” being taught in school.
If school leaders demand them, we should offer tech standards worthy of our students based on powerful ideas and a commitment to teacher renewal. We must move beyond the trivial and use computers in a fashion consistent with modern knowledge construction. These new “standards” elevate school computing and challenge traditional notions of top-down schooling.
Let’s call them N.I.T.S. – New Intergalactic Technology Standards.
Gary and his virtual friends, Brian Smith in Hong Kong and Martin Levins in Australia, will share their recommendations for raising our standards to the level kids deserve. Educon participants can argue the merits of these goals and add their own. You should have a lot fewer meetings to attend when your superiors are afraid of our new standards.
Everybody wins! Standards, up yours!
Feel free to add your standards suggestions as comments below…
ISTE 2012 marks my 25th ISTE/NECC Conference as a presenter.
I’m doing the following sessions. Drop by and say, “Hello!”
- The Best Educational Ideas in the World: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition (spotlight session)
Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 10:30am–11:30am, SDCC 6E
- 1:1 Computing in the Primary Grades (with Shelly Luke Willie)
Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 3:45pm–4:45pm, SDCC 1
- LOL@ ISTE: Cloud Today and the Potential for Rain (comedy with my criminally insane friends)
Wednesday, 6/27/2012, 10:15am–11:15am, SDCC 10
Although I’m only 48, I have been working in educational computing for thirty years. When I started, we taught children to program. We also taught tens of thousands of teachers to teach computer science to learners of all ages. In many cases, this experience represented the most complex thinking about thinking that teachers ever experienced and their students gained benefit from observing teachers learning to think symbolically, solve problems and debug. There was once a time in the not so distant path when educators were on the frontiers of scientific reasoning and technological progress. Curriculum was transformed by computing. School computers were used less often to “do school” and more often to do the impossible.
Don’t believe me? My mentor, Dan Watt, sold over 100,000 copies of a book entitled, Learning with Logo in the 1980s when much fewer teachers and children had access to a personal computer.
Things sped downhill when we removed “computing” from our lexicon and replaced it with “technology” (like a Pez dispenser or Thermos). We quickly degraded that meaningless term, technology, further by modifying it with IT and ICT. Once computing was officially erased from the education of young people, teachers could focus on keyboarding, chatting, looking stuff up, labeling the parts of the computer and making PowerPoint presentations about topics you don’t care about for an audience you will never meet. The over-reliance on the Internet and the unreliability of school networks ensures that you can spend half of each class period just logging-in.
Teachers with post-graduate degrees are being compelled to receive iPad training. My 95 year-old grandmother figured it out all by herself. No tax dollars were harmed in the process. Apparently, we also need to provide teachers with interactive white board training so they may hung unused in their classroom, just like all of their peers.
We have National Educational Technology Standards published by the International Society for TECHNOLOGY in Education that are so vague pedestrian that no computing is needed to meet them. In fact, it’s likely one can satisfy the NETs without the actual use of a computer. Despite standards and district tech plans that are a cross between a shopping list and a desperate plea for teachers to consider modernity, most school kids are powerless over the technology so central to their lives. Nobody even bothers to ask the question Seymour Papert first posed 45 years ago, “Does the child program the computer or does the computer program the child?” This is a tragedy.
What kids do get to do with computers tends to be trivial and inservice of the educational status quo. Gone are the days when educational computing conference programs were home to the most progressive thinkers and revolutionary ideas in education. Teachers were considered thought leaders and scholars who were required to write peer-reviewed papers in order to present at such events. Today one merely has to promise 75 quick and easy things to do in 37 minutes with the hottest product being peddled to schools. Another popular topic is incessantly about how your colleagues won’t or can’t use the latest fad.
I am sorry, but social media is not a school subject. There are conference workshops on using Twitter and masters degrees in educational technology that culminate in a rap about hashtags. If social media is any damned good, it needs to be as complex and reliable as a dial-tone. PLN, PLC, PLP, etc… are just fancy alphabet soup for having someone to talk with. We should not need an National Science Foundation grant to make friends.
I had an educator approach me at a conference recently to volunteer that “Our school is not ready for Google Docs.” Set aside whatever you happen to think about Google Docs; it’s a word processor in a Web browser, right? I told the tech director, “Congratulations, your school district has apparently managed to employ the last breathing mammals in the solar system incapable of using a word processor.” Isn’t it odd that technology directors are not held accountable for such failure over three decades? Could they possibly be enabling co-dependent behavior and helplessness in the teachers they are meant to lead?
If the percentage of teachers using computers remains constant over time, regardless of how we lower expectations, shouldn’t we ask a great deal more of them and set our sights higher?
I’m so old that I knew the guy responsible for “Guide on the side, sage on the stage” (Chris Held) and “Ask three before me,” (Leslie Thyberg) I even knew the gentleman responsible for “computer literacy.” (originally called computing literacy) His name was Arthur Luehrmann. I often find myself mumbling, “I knew Arthur Luehrmann. Arthur Luehrmann was a friend of mine. You sir are no Arhur Luehrmann.”
When Luerhmann coined the term, “computer literacy,” he intended it to mean computer programming the intellectual pursuit of agency over the computer and a means for solving problems.
Don’t believe me? Read this 1980 paper transcribed from a 1972 talk.
I know what some of you are thinking. Not every kid needs to learn programming. You don’t have to be able to fix a transmission to drive a car, blah blah blah…
First of all, the educational technology community and schools seem to have decided that no kids should learn to program. I’d be happy with the same nine-week programming class I was required to take in 1975.
Second, computer programming is not like fixing a car. It’s much more like designing the car, making sure all of its systems work in an integrated fashion, mitigating the environmental impact of cars and imagining their impact on society. Computer science is a legitimate science that has profound implications for learning all sorts of other powerful ideas, working in diverse fields and making sense of the world. You just would not know this if you go to school.
Why would it even occur to educators to deprive children of such rich learning opportunities?
If you have the audacity to speak of digital literacy or technology literacy and do not teach computer science, then this is the first time in the history of education when the functional definition of “literacy” has been so devalued, diminished and degraded. All other expectations for literacy increase over time.
There you go Stager, you radical crank. How dare you ask teachers to develop new knowledge and empower students? You’re just some stupid utopian who happened to have a great 7th grade computer programming teacher 35 years ago. Well, I’m not alone.
In January, I was in London to keynote at BETT. At the same event, the Secretary of State Michael Gove announced that the UK government was scrapping the “harmful and dull” national ICT curriculum and replacing it with computer science at all grade levels. He called the current curriculum a mess and wondered aloud why schools bother to teach Excel or PowerPoint to bored students? Coincidentally, I wondered in 1996 why we were investing so heavenly in ensuring that we create a generation of fifth graders with terrific secretarial skills?
When a conservative politician and I agree on education policy, who could possibly be on the other side?
- The Daily Papert
- The Case for Computing
A chapter from the book, Snapshots! Educational Insights from the Thornburg Center
- What’s a Computer For? Part II
- What’s a Computer For? Part 1
I participated in one of the ISTE “Learning & Leading Debates” where you don’t know your opponent or their argument, about “Bring Your Own Device.” I reiterated my opposition to BYOD as policy.
Here is the text:
Gary S. Stager: No
In 1990, I began helping schools across the globe realize the transformational learning
potential of a laptop for every child. From the start, there was a recognition of the inevitability that every student would own a personal mobile computer in the near future, whether school provided it or not.
However, BYOD is bad policy that constrains student creativity, limits learning opportunities, and
leads to less support for public education in the future. It’s a reckless idea for the following reasons:BYOD enshrines inequity. The only way to guarantee equitable educational experiences is for each student to have access to the same materials and learning opportunities. BYOD leaves this to chance, allowing more affluent students to continue having an unfair advantage over their classmates. This is particularly problematic in a society with growing economic disparity.
BYOD creates false equivalencies between any objects that happen to use electricity. Repeat after me! Cell phones are not computers! They may both contain microprocessors and batteries, but as of today, their functionality is quite different.
We should not make important educational decisions based on price. A mentor told me that basing important educational decisions on price is immoral, ineffective, and imprudent. Doing the right thing is a matter of priorities and leadership, not price point.
BYOD narrows the learning process to information access and chat. Information access, note taking, and communication represent the tiniest fraction of what it means to learn. Looking up the answers to someone else’s questions online to type an essay or make a PowerPoint reinforces the status quo while failing to unlock the opportunities that computational thinking provides.
BYOD increases teacher anxiety. Schools have largely failed to inspire teachers to use computers in even pedestrian ways after three decades of trying. A cornucopia of devices in the classroom will only amplify their anxiety and reduce use.
BYOD diminishes the otherwise enormous potential of educational computing to the weakest device in the room. The computer is an intellectual laboratory and vehicle for self-expression that makes it possible for children to learn and do things in ways unthinkable just a few years ago. We impair such empowerment when we limit educational practice to the functionality of the least powerful device.
BYOD contributes to the growing narrative that education is not worthy of investment. We reap what we sow. If we placate those who slash budgets by making unreasonable compromises at the expense of children, we will find ever fewer resources down the road. We must not view education as some “every man for himself” enterprise that relies on children to find loose change behind the sofa cushions. Democracy and a high-quality educational system require adequate funding.
Check out the new Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and high-def video camera carried by the tech coordinator who decided that students should be happy with whatever hand-me-down devices he can scrounge up. The message here is: “Let them eat cell phones!”
It takes chutzpah to ask a school to buy something for every student. You better make sure you ask for the right device. Kids need a computer capable of doing anything you imagine they should be able to do, with plenty of room for growth and childlike ingenuity.
—Gary S. Stager, PhD, is the director of the Constructing Modern Knowledge Institute
If you wish to read the argument for BYOD, click here.
Please share widely.
Warning: Educators will be criticized below! You have been warned.
Recently, a friend sent me a link to an episode of Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show. In this whimsical YouTube video, eight year-old Sylvia teaches you about designing, engineering and programming a variety of projects using the open-source Arduino robotics controller. With the poise, wit and clarity of a seasoned television host, Sylvia explains the electronic principles of light–emitting diodes, resisters, potentiometers, grounds and compiling the program you download to create a strobe light. Next, she teaches viewers how to construct a Randomly Influenced Finger Flute that uses a square wave at a variable number of hertz to make the Arduino play music.
This is no burping into VoiceThread!
Sylvia disposes of the ISTE technology standards in the first fourteen seconds of her video. By following her motto, “Have fun, play around and get out there and make something,” she learns a host of powerful ideas, engages countless habits of mind and demonstrates her knowledge by constructing something shareable. Sylvia’s video embodies Seymour Papert’s theory of constructionism. In fact, many of the fluencies displayed by Sylvia are discussed in Papert and Solomon’s 1971 paper, “Twenty Things to Do with a Computer.”
Don’t you dare tell me that the demands of the curriculum preclude time for such classroom projects. Kids like Sylvia remind us of the authentic nature of learning and the efficiency of project-based learning. Several years worth of lectures on physics, electronics, engineering, computer science and video production would not result in the understanding demonstrated by Sylvia; that is if elementary schools bothered to teach such subjects at all.
Engineering is concrete. Engineers make things. They experiment and tinker. If you know anything about development you recognize that knowledge construction follows a progression from concrete to the abstract. Yet, most kids are deprived of engineering experiences until they endure twelve years of abstractions. If the creative inclinations of young children were nurtured in an engineering context, their understanding of the increasingly elusive math and science facts would be developed in a meaningful natural context.
Sylvia’s father is an accomplished technology expert. So what? Public schools are designed to democratize specialized learning experiences for all children. If Sylvia was doing little more than reading off a teleprompter, then her performance would still exceed our expectations. Yet, she demonstrates so much more.
Sylvia embodies the spirit of the exploding DIY movement with the creativity of the Little Rascals and curiosity of Mr. Wizard. She’s just using the construction materials of her era. The difference is the power of computational thinking and microprocessors. Arduino microcontrollers are the Barbies of her generation.
The high crime is that kids like Sylvia will be in seventh grade, four years from now, where the curriculum awaiting them will be worthless concoctions like keyboarding instruction or “using the Google.” We insult children’s intelligence and squander their potential by serving up a curriculum of “computer appreciation” dependent on adult inadequacies or misallocated resources.
There are lots of computers in schools, but very little computing! Three decades ago, I dedicated my life to using computers constructively to amplify human potential. Back then, educational computing was built on progressive learning theories, propelled by passion of the civil rights movement and based on a notion that children could invent a better world than existed for previous generations. Sadly, I no longer recognize my own field. The powerful ideas of Dewey, Holt, Papert, not to mention Al Rogers, David Thornburg, Tom Snyder, Fred D’Ignzaio and Tom Snyder – have been replaced by a focus on filtering policies, meaningless clichés about 21st Century skills and funding concerns. I often wonder, “is edtech/ICT a legitimate discipline or just a shopping club?” Too many educational technology conferences, like ISTE, seem like a busload of foreign tourists speeding past historical monuments in order to get to the next duty-free shop.
While your district tech team wrestles with the earth-shattering decision over whether kids should write their five-paragraph essay in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, kids could be doing and learning like Sylvia. While you bathe in the warmth of your PLN with self-congratulatory tweets, Sylvia is sharing serious expertise with the world.
Tens of thousands of district tech directors, coordinators and integrators have done such a swell job that after thirty years, teachers are the last adults in the industrialized world to use computers. I feel compelled to ask, “Are the very same employees charged with inspiring teachers to use computers creating dependency and helplessness instead?”
Teachers are not imbeciles incapable of growth or felons who can’t be trusted to show Sylvia’s YouTube video in class. Each summer’s Constructing Modern Knowledge Institute demonstrates the creativity and intellectual capacity of educators when they are engaged in projects involving programming, robotics materials, microcontrollers, drawing tablets, musical bananas, soda can orchestras, bike powered LEGO iPhone chargers, animation, filmmaking, authentic problems and whimsy. During the 1980s, we taught tens of thousands of teachers computer programming and how to teach it to children.
Educators love the stories of the eleven year-old dot.com millionaire and Web stars, like Sylvia, but would you really want her in your class? Can you build upon the gifts the kids bring to you or will you force them to comply with someone else’s curriculum? Would you punish her or classify her with a learning disability for a failure to sit quietly as school repeals the 20th Century?
Failure to embrace the kids’ competence, capacity and creativity leads educators to deprive children of opportunities to achieve their potential. Worst of all, it cheats children out of the rich 21st Century childhood they deserve.
- Super-Awesome Sylvia’s YouTube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/SuperAwesomeSylvia
- Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute – http://constructingmodernknowledge.com
- Tinkering resources
On June 26th, The Constructivist Consortium hosted the Fifth Annual Constructivist Celebration prior to the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia. In addition to multiple meals, participants enjoyed a day of creativity, collaboration and computing thanks to software and project-based support from representatives of Tech4Learning, LCSI and Generation YES.
The day culminated with a 37-minute conversation between Will Richardson and myself. I am most grateful to Will for his generosity and participation!
Here is video of the conversation. Regrettably, the first few seconds of the conversation were not captured.
Please subscribe to my very occasional newsletter!
I’ll be in Philadelphia from June 26-30th for the annual ISTE (formerly NECC) Conference. I have presented at all but one of these conferences since 1987 (also in Philadelphia). Over those 24 conferences, I’ve presented somewhere between 50 and 75 presentations and workshops. Being part of the keynote event at the 2009 NECC remains one of the highlights of my career.
Many of you know that I have been critical of the ISTE Conference program over the years and find the exhibit hall to be a vulgar distraction, but I would not miss it for anything. Why? Because I have dedicated 29 years of my life to using computers in ways that amplify the human potential of each child and this conference is the largest event in the field I love
ISTE is always an exhausting whirlwind. Please stop by one of the following sessions and say, “hi!”
June 26, 2011 – 8:30 – 3:30 PM
Maggiano’s Little Italy
For the fifth consecutive year, this day-long workshop combines fun, creativity and computing. For a very reasonable $60, you will receive free creativity software worth hundreds of dollars from the world’s best school software companies, breakfast, snacks and lunch, and a full-day workshop led by Gary Stager and other members of the Constructivist Consortium. It’s always a sell-out, but right now there are still a few spaces left to join in the fun, so register today – you won’t regret it!
At the end of the day, Sylvia Martinez of Generation YES moderate a conversation between Will Richardson (author and king of the edubloggers) and Gary Stager on “Digging Deeper” which is sure to be fun and thought-provoking.
SPOTLIGHT: The Best Educational Ideas in the World: High-Tech Learning Adventures
Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 2:00pm–3:00pm PACC 103BC
Gary Stager, The Constructivist Consortium
Join us on a tour of the best education ideas in the world! Lessons learned en route create the productive knowledge construction contexts required for a rewarding life. This presentation is a sneak peek at a forthcoming book from Jossey-Bass/Wiley.
The Fix Is In: Social Mobilization and School Reform (Model lesson)
Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 10:15am–11:15am PACC 119B
Carl Anderson, East Metro Integration District 6067 with Scott Schwister and Gary Stager
Citizen journalism is a growing phenomena empowered by Web 2.0 technologies. Learn how to use it in your classroom to empower students.
SPOTLIGHT: LOL@ISTE: Unlocking Your Potential to Laugh
Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 11:45am–12:45pm PACC 201BC
Saul Rockman, Michael Jay, Roger Wagner and Gary Stager
The usual collection of punsters, jokesters, storytellers, and really terrible singers strives to explain why technology is so important in education and life. Recommended by ISTE’s SIGGS
SIGTC Forum: So You Want an iPad? K-20 Implications and Integration
Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 10:30am–12:30pm PACC 103A
Camilla Gagliolo, Arlington Public Schools, and Craig Nansen, Minot Public Schools and Gary Stager will speak. Recommended by ISTE’s SIGTC
This PDF contains a schedule of sessions addressing creativity and computing by friends of The Constructivist Consortium.
What’s a Computer For? Part 1
It all depends on your educational philosophy.
Originally published in the June 2008 issue of District Administration Magazine
Before increasing your technology investment, it may be prudent to pause and review your expectations. What you and your colleagues believe about learning and the aims of education drives the success or failure of classroom computing. This even has implications for what you purchase. I suggest that it is the combination of a vision deficit, meager goals and technological ignorance that limits the educational potential of computers.
Where Do You Stand?
A useful paradigm for determining your stance regarding educational computing places three men – Alfred Bork, Tom Snyder and Seymour Papert – at the three corners of a triangle. Bork, a computer scientist and physicist, dedicated several decades to building large computer-based systems designed to teach and assess learners. Bork also viewed computers as a solution to teacher scarcity and skill deficits. He predicted, “Teaching faculty, in the sense that we know them today, may cease to exist, except for in smaller, advanced courses.”
Tom Snyder, a former private school teacher and musician, started an educational software company in the 1980s. He observed the classroom landscape and recognized that many classrooms had only one microcomputer. He responded to this market reality by designing software for the “one computer classroom.” In his view, the classroom is a stage, the teacher is the performer, and the computer is a prop. What was a perfectly reasonable marketing strategy 20 years ago has become an ideological position still held by some educators.
In the 1960s, mathematician, computer scientist and Piaget colleague Seymour Papert realized that the protean nature of the computer allowed learners to shape its use and construct knowledge in ways and domains otherwise impossible. The computer could be an “object to think with” and offer a collection of microworlds in which one could explore powerful ideas. Papert offered the computer as a “mathland” in which learning mathematics would come as natural and effective as one would learn French by living in France – as opposed to being taught French in an American classroom. Papert’s influence led to the creation of Logo, the laptop computer, classroom robotics and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation. He asks, “Does the child program the computer or does the computer program the child?”
The different perspectives of Bork, Snyder and Papert represent fundamental issues of agency. Who has the power and is at the center of the educational process? Bork views the computer for the system, Snyde, for the teacher, and Papert for the learner. You and your colleagues should consider where you stand. It may also be worthwhile reflecting on the technology you own or are considering. Where does each tool or practice fit within this paradigm?
While it’s possible to “stand” between Bork, Snyder or Papert without standing behind one of them, assuming a stance increases clarity and makes implementation more consistent. Such consistency increases the efficacy of your district’s tech use.
The epistemological relativism of efforts like the ISTE Standards may diminish their impact. An equivalent embrace of Bork, Snyder and Papert sends a confusing counterproductive message to teachers.
What’s a Computer For?
If you believe that the computer’s optimum role is to deliver content, monitor progress and aggregate data, then you need to invest in large-scale teaching systems with publisher-created curricula. The needs and desires of centralized administrators are favored in such a scenario. Little professional development is necessary for teachers, since the computer lab may be supervised by a paraprofessional.
If your goal is to have teachers present technology-enhanced lectures or use the computer to prepare worksheets, tests or parent newsletters, then professional development may focus on helping teachers master the mechanics of using computers for instruction or personal productivity.
Educators interested in having students create, construct and collaborate with computers may invest in open-ended software and personal laptops enabling 24/7 learning. Teacher professional development may have more to do with principles of project-based learning or constructivism than on computer skills.
Even 1:1 computing is shaped by your objectives. If your goal is for fifth-graders to develop office skills or to use their laptops to take notes in class, the educational impact may be modest and probably in the Snyder camp. You may only need low-cost word processing devices.
I got excited about computing 30 years ago because I was able to feel creative and intellectually powerful. I aspire to more bang for the computer buck by creating contexts in which students use computers to learn and create in ways that enhance their humanity and challenge preconceived notions of children as inadequate thinkers. While most educational computing is relegated to the language arts, I help inspire action in the arts and sciences. My students require full-featured computers capable of being the means for serendipitous discoveries.
The difference is whether the computer is used to sustain routine teaching practice or transform learning. I’ve written a white paper on evaluating a computer activity’s potential for transformative learning, Towards the Construction of a Language for Describing the Potential of Educational Computing Activities, that may be downloaded from www.stager.org/potential.
In case you missed it, ISTE asked me to participate in a Point/Counterpoint faux debate over “screen time.” Unbeknownst to me, my friend Rick Weinberg was my enemy combattant. Had I known, I would have been meaner
I also didn’t know how Rick responded to the prompt when I wrote my rebuttal.
Nonetheless, I’m quite proud of my contribution in spite of the editing.
I just noticed that the debate was framed in terms of “students” rather than on children. Had I known, I would have raised a ruckus. Schools and educators have no jurisdiction on children’s lives outside of school and there is a growing sentiment in our society that the purpose of children is to “do” school. I reject this premise.
In any event, the complete “debate” may be found in PDF form here.
My argument is as follows:
No! We should not limit screen time for the following reasons:
It is wrong to be capriciously mean to children.
Adults need to do everything possible to create relationships with children based on reciprocal respect and care. Arbitrary rules only escalate intergenerational tension. Every parent knows that making something “forbidden fruit” only raises its attractive powers.
Children only do things for long periods of time that they find interesting.
It is the role of educators to understand that attraction and find ways to channel a student’s capacity for intensity in richer directions.
Educators have (limited) jurisdiction over classrooms and playgrounds, not living rooms.
Who deputized you Barney Fife? Your job title might be technology coordinator, but it’s not video game police.
It is preposterous to suggest that students get too much screen time in school. Even in schools with a laptop per child, computers tend to be quite underused, especially in constructive, creative ways. The average student in a Western industrialized nation uses a school computer less than an hour per week. Too often that paltry time is squandered on school concoctions like keyboarding instruction, tech literacy assessment, or making PowerPoint files on topics of no interest to the student or likely anyone else.
It seems odd that “edtech professionals” would make blanket arguments about technology use. Perhaps we need a greater vision and better ability to articulate the value of computers in education.
It all depends on how you define “screen.”
Only an immature understanding of computing and its potential in the intellectual and creative development of children leads to prohibitions on “screen time.” You never hear thoughtful adults complain about too much pianoing or penciling or paintbrushinging or booking. It is the bankruptcy of our imaginations that leads the edtech community to view all screen-based activities as equivalent.
Perusing the exhibit hall of an edtech conference could easily lead one to want to keep children away from screens altogether. Confections like interactive whiteboards, clickers, and data management systems may produce an illusion of modernity, but they rob children of agency and a chance to achieve their full potential.
It is the bankruptcy of our imaginations that leads the edtech community to view all screen-based activities as equivalent.
There is an alternative. Students using computers to compose music, program simulations, design video games, make films, conduct science experiments, and collaborate with experts need more screen time, not less. What if what children did with computers was good? That standard should replace all others.
Renowned computer scientist Seymour Papert might suggest that questioning the value of “screen time” is similar to asking, “Does wood make good houses?” or “Does paint make great art?” Educators helping children develop fluency in computing—where the computer is an intellectual laboratory and vehicle for self-expression that allows users to learn and create in ways unimaginable just a few years ago—never need to ask a question such as “Should we limit screen time?”
September/October 2010 Learning & Leading with Technology. Pp 8-9.
Well, it’s 2:11 AM and I’m here in Denver for a week of ISTE (or are we supposed to call it the ISTE Conference?) Believe it or not, I am one of the signatories to the original ISTE Charter from back in ‘ye olden days when “computer” was removed from the titles of organizations and magazines! I still can’t help, but think that changing NECC to ISTE is akin to New Coke.
That said, I look forward to catching-up with friends, leading the Constructivist Celebration and making two new presentations at the 23rd or 24th NECC/ISTE I’ve spoken at since 1987.
This year marks my 20th anniversary working in 1:1 environments since I led the first professional development at the world’s first two “laptop schools” and it’s my 28th year working with children, teachers and computers.
Here are the program links to the sessions I’ll be presenting at ISTE 2010
Creativity 2.0: The Quest for Meaning, Beauty, and Excellence CCC Four Seasons Ballroom 2/3
Gary Stager, Pepperdine University
Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Project, Challenge, & Problem-Based Curricula
20 Lessons from 20 Years of 1-to-1 Teaching CCC 205/207
Gary Stager, Pepperdine University
School Improvement : One-to-One Initiatives
I’ve also been invited to yuck it up with my old (geologically old) friends on Tuesday at one of ISTE’s most popular sessions!
LOL @ ISTE: Bring Popcorn and an Open Mind CCC 505/506
Saul Rockman, Rockman Et Al Inc with Michael Jay, Heidi Rogers, Ferdi Serim, Gary Stager and Elliot Soloway
Professional Learning : Student, Teacher, and/or Administrator Leader Preparation
Plans are shaping up brilliantly for Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010. I wish every single educator on earth could spend four days with us building, creating, collaborating, messing-about and discussing matters of learning, teaching and school reform with some of the leading educational thinkers of our time. I’ve been speaking with Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn and James Loewen this week and can assure you that CMK 2010 will be historic!
One of the best pieces of news I received this week was that Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy is coming to CMK as a participant. It takes a mighty great educational leader to dedicate four days to learning in public!
There are still spots available and time to register. Don’t miss out!
Now, it’s 2:50 AM!