The tools are the gateway

I have been seeing lots of discussion about the importance of having digital technology freely available in schools. I am 100%  in support of this idea. It is not though the answer to all our problems.

It represents nothing more than students having arrived at the gateway. Entering they will find themselves in an invisible space that contains seemingly never-ending knowledge. Finding their way through this huge mass of knowledge is the key to their development and any chance we may have of surviving as a species.

Gone are the days when we could really prescribe a set of information that every child needed in order to cope with the world when they grew up. The curriculum that can be set is outdated as soon as it is printed. We live in a world where new knowledge comes out every day… indeed this blog post, for good or bad, will be added to the massive outflow of information that will becoming out in the next hour so that, at the end of this calendar day, there will be as much new information as perhaps would fill the shelves of a fairly large library in the past.

What chance do our students have of making sense of it all? I know that, in an average day, I will get links to great articles, videos, blog posts, newspaper items and a whole lot more from Google +, Twitter, Facebook and a multitude of e-mails that I receive that keep me updated of blogs, papers, individuals that I follow.

I believe that I am fortunate in being  a true surfer of the net. I am able to explore the world of knowledge “out there” and allow it to influence me, irritate me, or leave me totally unmoved or changed as a person.I do not collaborate as much as I would like to excepting to participate in valuable Twitter discussions like #edchat. My recent joining of Google + has opened more chances to get valuable information to explore from interesting people I didn’t have in my Personal Learning Network previously.

To me the tools of technology have led me to the gateway and I am fortunate to be able to have the chance to explore. I learn something new every day but I am not tied to a specific set of information that I need to look for or have to spend my precious time trying to answer simplistic questions by looking for the quickest  (usually top) suggestions of a Google search.

If we really want to allow our children to succeed in the future then we need to let them have the time to explore, to discuss, to understand the difference between good information and absolute rubbish. We need this to be in an environment where their searches are for real interest and not for some homework task. We need to have a curriculum that states that there is not one set body of information that they must learn but a world of knowledge that they must use the tools of technology to explore, to learn from or to dismiss.

If this happens then we will have the kind of thinkers who will be able to cope with the challenges that our ever-increasing digital society is posing for us and maybe use the tools that they become proficient at to add better additions to the constant stream.

 

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