How much technology instruction do our students need?

Adam Schoenbart is taking a stand against spending long hours reviewing technology with his students. Why? He believes, given the opportunity, students will learn to use the technology on their own.

I don’t agree with that, but I also don’t think that is exactly what he means. Later on in his article, he mentions allowing students to play with the technology without any academic constraints.

If we ever meet in person, remind to tell you the story of a wonderful young student of mine who tried to type a formal, MLA essay in PowerPoint.

You might assume that this student had never taken a computer elective. On the contrary, at the school I was teaching, students took computer for six weeks every year until they were in middle school, as part of their enrichment program. I assumed that incoming 9th graders would have far more knowledge of computers and applications with all of that learning behind them, but many did not basic competencies (formatting a paper, attaching a document to an e-mail, knowing the appropriate usage of applications, etc.).

There is NO WAY I could have gone an entire year letting my students explore the technology on their own, hoping they would pick up on it. The time just isn’t there.

One of my two suggestions is right in lie with Schoenbart’s real argument: exploration without ties to an academic grade. Prepare a lesson where students must meet specific technology competencies through their own exploration, with you or their peers as a guide.

Second, prepare a one to two day intensive for students at the beginning of the year to introduce them to the new technology. They are not likely to remember everything that is taught, but they will at least get a general overview of the new technology and its capabilities.

Retention of the technology competencies will only increase if students use the knowledge on a regular basis, which requires that their technology usage is attached to their academic practice.

If you are looking for some resources to get you started with teaching computer skills in your curriculum, I have referenced a few in different age ranges below.

eLearning for Kids – grades K-6

Computers in Action – high school – adult learners

GCF Learn Free – all