Do you sprinkle or mix?

For many schools and educators, technology is like the topping or finishing touch to the curriculum or a project. It’s nice to have, looks good, adds to the overall flavor, but really when you get right down to it…it isn’t needed.

For many this has been the approach of technology, fair enough….as through the 1980, ’90 and early 2000s as schools were putting computers into labs that is exactly what they were. It often was a free time, a time to play some games, or later on spend some time on the Internet. Once and awhile they added that sprinkle to a lesson. A PowerPoint to show learning, or typing your poem rather than writing it. We started with technology as the sprinkles to our curriculum and our teaching.

Over the years however as these technologies have become mainstream in society our view of technology, for the most part hasn’t changed. There are very few jobs that do not require some computer literacy or typing skills. Yet many schools have yet to replace or add typing as part of the writing curriculum. We still view technology as the sprinkles or toppings rather than looking at how we can mix those sprinkles into the batter and make a whole new curriculum. What we need to do is start from scratch and think about how we build a new curriculum that includes these new skills and ideas. How do we add typing as a writing skill and e-mail as a genre any other way.

Until education, educators, schools, and school leaders decide that these new literacy skills must be taught we’re just adding sprinkles. We’re left with some teachers taking time to teach these skills and some not. If technology remains the sprinkles some people will choose not to use them…no matter their color, flavor, or texture.

We do not need a technology curriculum instead what we need to do is get out the blender and mix up a new batter that looks at this new digital era we now live in and decide what are the skills students need. Yes…something must give and deciding what goes is not easy. Personally I can make a case for teaching e-mail writing as a genre or typing skills within the writing curriculum. I can see global collaboration projects fitting in with social studies and science and exposing student to searching, finding, decoding skills in reading. In some cases the skills and concepts haven’t changed we just need to update the tools we use to teach them. In other areas we’re going to have to make some hard choices between what we feel is valuable in a digital age and what is not. Can we get out the blender and create something new? Can education find a way to truly impact teaching and learning to prepare students for their future? We’ll need a lot of blenders and less sprinkles…but a good recipe never needs added flavoring anyway.