(I still find it funny what blog posts start conversations)

A great conversation on TTWWADI is brewing between the comments left on my last post and Clarence Fisher adding to the conversation on his own blog.

The more this conversation emerges the more I’m convinced that an embedded technology approach is a great approach to use in schools.

My issue is I’m teaching skills without content. My rubric is based on the skills of creating a web page. The layout, color scheme, link placement, etc. But the content…is just content to create the site. Clarence has the opposite issue:

What was important in this case was not the coding and the software skills, although they did come into play. What was important was the information presentation skills, the design and interplay of colours, fonts, organization, etc.

So as a classroom teacher he’s concerned about information and presentation skills. As a technology person I’m interested in coding, layout, color, and presentation skills. Our interests are the same, but our focus is different. Clarence has good technology skills, I would say above average compared to most teachers and probably doesn’t need a technology person helping him teach these skills to his students. But for the teachers that are focused on information and presentation but don’t have the knowledge of web design, a technology person there to help is critical.

This is why I like the term embedded technology rather than integrated technology. Integrated to me seems like we’re putting it on top of what we’re doing when really the technology part is embedded as part of the assignment. It’s like a hamburger: A patty is far better when presented with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, and relish (substitute your favorite toppings here! FYI a good burger is something I can’t wait to have when I get back to the States in a couple weeks.) between the buns not on the side as add ons.

In order for an embedded technology program to work you have to have two key factors in place.

1) A classroom teacher who is willing to open their door, team plan/teach, and understands the skills needed to complete the project.

2) An educational technology person how understands teaching and learning, understands the standard or outcome the classroom teacher is trying to meet with the project and can team plan/teach lessons.

There are teachers out there like Clarence who are a 2 for 1 package and can do both. I can’t wait until all teachers are at that level and I no longer have a job. I’m waiting for the day that a principal comes to me and says, “Jeff, I’m sorry but our staff doesn’t need you anymore.” As strange as that sounds…it brings a smile to my face.

Moving to an embedded technology model allows us to teach 21st century skills within our content areas. Both are more meaningful and engaging to the learner. Personally I’m looking forward to next year where my full duty will be to help teachers embed technology into everyday content. Next year Dreamweaver might be more relevant to me and my students as there will be a purpose for us to use the program other than me teaching it because TTWWADI.

[tags]TTWWADI, 21st Century Learning[/tags]

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That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It

I was hit this week with a TTWWADI right in my own teaching. It’s the end of the semester and so in TTWWADI fashion the students are creating web sites using Dreamweaver.

The project includes everything we’ve been talking about this past semester. The only difference is the students have had a blog all semester and that is a web site.

The students have been excited to learn how to use Dreamweaver but I keep coming back to: Is this a skill I should be teaching in 6 and 7th grade?

Maybe…before Web 2.0 tools made it so easy to publish content to the web learning how to build a web page in Dreamweaver was a skill we needed to be teaching. But is it a relevant skill in a Web 2.0 world?

I would argue we should be teaching how to hack css scripts. All of my students have a blog through our school site. Most have at least one other site, either on facebook, myspace, or some other social-network. All of these places are created using .php and the users can hack their themes by changing values in the css script. I would have done this on our blogging system that is running wordpress mu but users can’t hack into individual themes using this program.

This would concern me more if this wasn’t the last year we will have “technology class” as starting next year we move to an embedded model where we will be supporting and teaching technology within content areas.

However..there are still many technology classes out there that are teaching web design via Dreamweaver. I’m not against web design…I could use a lesson myself, but we need to make sure that we are teaching students web design for a new web and not web design because TTWWADI.

Just something I’ve been thinking about.


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