This is Part II of Dr Daniel Johnson's April Curriculum Letter.  

21st CENTURY SKILLS

How has technology changed our children's world?

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Often, as educators, we are confronted with many questions regarding technology. As a father, I understand where these questions stem from. Questions such as:

 

  • Are our children experiencing too much screen time?
  • Will a 1:1 environment eliminate the traditional ways students learn - paper, pencil, etc.?
  • How does this benefit our students?

As we begin to plan for our 1:1 roll-out in Sparta, questions such as these have framed a lot of our planning. As hard as it may be to believe, 1:1 initiatives have actually been in existence for over 30 years. In 1985, Apple launched the first 1:1 program in schools with its Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) initiative. Over the past 30 years, technology has changed the manner in which students are exposed to knowledge. It truly has resulted in a paradigm shift in the manner in which we, as a society, interact with information and each other.

The exchange of information has been redefined during this time period due to an expanding global digital infrastructure that now has the ability to connect everyone. Where at one time in history, knowledge was looked after by appointed "gatekeepers" - today, our students have access to an unlimited number of sources of information. Furthermore, due to one's ability to react to and provide feedback/ideas, knowledge continues to change and grow.

The 21st Century is nearly two decades old, and, in this, one of the most common phrases used in education is 21st Century Skills. What exactly are these skills, and how will they affect our students? 21st Century skills are those skills that allow one to be a part of a global community; skills such as collaboration, cooperation, inventive thinking, and networked problem-solving.

By providing access to Chromebooks, the Sparta School District believes that we are able to furnish students with a resource to help them meet these skills, with the notion of increasing their success within a global community as they prepare for jobs that have not even been created yet. By no means do we believe that Chromebooks could, or should, replace more traditional means of education; we see them as a resource, much like textbooks, that will provide a complimentary avenue for students to work within these 21st Century structures.