Saturday, February 18, 2006

Supporting Literacy with Technology

In 1995 Nicholas Negroponte (founder and director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab) wrote 'Being Digital', in which he said:
Computing is not about computers. It is about life....... We are discussing a fundamental cultural change: Being digital is not just being a geek or Internet surfer or mathematically savvy child. It is actually a way of living and is going to impact absolutely everything. The way you work, the way you study, the way you amuse yourself, the way you communicate among your friends, with your kids......Personal computers will make our future adult population simultaneously more mathematically able and more visually literate. Ten years from now, teenagers are likely to enjoy a much richer panorama of options because the pursuit of intellectual achievement will not be tilted so much in favor of the bookworm, but instead cater to a wider range of cognitive styles, learning patterns, and expressive behaviors.

In 2006 we are continuing to struggle with what being digital means in terms of education and literacy. Our classrooms have not changed fundamentally for decades but our students and the potential to radically alter our educational approach has. All we need to do is realise this and become aware of the potential of educational technology to support learning.

In an international school such as ours (International School Dhaka, Bangladesh) we also struggle with cultural issues to do with literacy and understanding. We 'deliver' instruction in English to second language learners and search for better and improved ways to integrate digital tools to help us do this.
Here are some tools and online resources that are worth investigating with the purpose of exploring the topic of 21st century literacies and of finding resources to help educators in the classroom.
I encourage all educators to explore the above resources and others as you find them and continue to plan for experiential learning that uses multimedia and online opportunities to improve literacy in all of its facets. It will take creativity and it will take planning on the part of the teachers and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution in the form of a magical computer program that does it all. However, I believe, it is our responsibility.

By the way, you must read what David Warlick has to say in his Act Like a Native post this week. He concludes with:
You may say, “but who’s going to teach me to do that?” That’s an immigrant question. Natives teach themselves. They work with each other to grow their knowledge and skills. We’ve got to figure this out!


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