Week 1 – NETS

I am coming into this course a week late and trying to catch up.  As I read and watched the videos I have to say it made my head swim with thoughts going here and there.  I will try to gather them together and make some sence of them.

The NETS standards aspire to collect all of the information which is needed to teach students how to be technologically savvy in an ever changing world.  Their core issue is that digital age skills are vital for preparing students to work, live, and contribute to social and civic fabric of their communities. Digital media literacy is rising to importance in leaps and bounds as to how we think, communicate, learn, and process the world around us.  The public education field needs to prepare students to be able to work within these changes.

One of the standards which is important is promoting digital citizenship and responsibility.  Howard Rheingold discusses its importance with universities and employers being able to look-up information about a person from as long as they have been on the web.  Some people are be denied access to universities because of pictures and text from years past of drunken parties.  Employers are passing on the opportunity to hire someone from threads which continue back to past aggressive behaviour shown on social media sites.  Being responsible with how students use the digital age is something that can be far reach into their futures.  Students need to be taught responsibility on the Internet in all social media at a young age.

Learning how to collaborate and publish with peers is another important NETS standard. Howard Rheingold talks to this standard by saying even within his classes at Stanford and Berkeley he was surprised at the wide variation of digital knowledge with his students.  He had to set up new modules for his classes which address learning with the individuals having a voice to speak as he was teaching.   As the world continues to become more global and communication between all areas of life are connected together, instantly, being able to collaborate with each other is paramount.

Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making are a NEDS standard which could very challenging to teach.  A lot is put on the students to come up with understanding from data.  Students have been trained, over time, to believe what a book says is true and not to question the authenticity of the information within it.  Anyone can put anything on the net and say anything they want to say.  It will take some time and effort on the part of the educators to teach how to analyze the information students are finding.

The differences between the NEDS standards for teacher verses students come in the approach of meeting those standards.  Student standards are geared towards how the students will be able to participate within the structure of the Internet.  They need to learn how to be creative thinkers, create original works, engage with others from different cultures, and learn how to evaluate information, using digital tools to process the data.

NEDS standards for teachers come from the prospect of how they are going to engage students in the learning process.  They need to use their knowledge to promote and model creativity, design and develop learning models for the digital age, be fluent in the technology available, understand digital citizenship and responsibility, plus engage in their own professional growth.

I come from an elementary background and struggle with these standards.  There seems to be a huge gap between what the NEDS standards are promoting and what is currently going on in the public schools.  Many of the school districts do not have the funding or resources to properly meet these requirements.  Many of the teachers who have been teaching 5+ years are not wanting to change their teaching style to accommodate technology.  As Howard Rheingold says, “Change doesn’t take place quickly in public schools.”  I was amazed about his comments of the “wide variation on digital knowledge” in his classes.  And this comes from a professor at two of the top universities in the nation!  My thought was, if college students in 2010 have such a wide variation in their knowledge of the digital world, how are the public schools expected to met the high NEDS standards any time soon or in the near future?

I asked my own daughters about their experiences with the digital age in their public schools and this is what they said.  At the elementary school in 4th grade the class had a computer lab time once a week for about an hour.  5th grade there were no computers in the room, but there was a cart with laptops to plug into which traveled around to different rooms.  When they were on the computer they were only allowed to use search engines to gather specific information with limited time on the computer.

My 8th grader, in middle school, had more access to computers.  They used Ipads, laptops, desk tops, and teachers had smart boards.  There was a computer lab which had about 30 computers in it and the library had 10 computers.  Many classrooms had computers in them also.  She said about 1/2 of the teachers used the smart board and its features.  The other half only used them to project something overhead.  One of her teachers even said,”Don’t tell anyone but I don’t know how to use the smart board!”  This makes me see the gap in educating students in the digital age really starts with educating the teachers and more than a quick run through.  I have heard from teachers of how some of their colleagues do not want to teach with new technology and fight the process.  It is difficult to learn new ways of teaching something one has taught for many years.

On a personal note, I can say I am on the side of having to learn about the digital age in my own future classroom.  I am excited to see all the things one can do with the technology but on the other hand it can seem overwhelming to me.  I do not participate in the social media of today but can see the need to get connected with others and to use it, getting myself firmly planted in the 21st century.  Lucky for me I have two children who are dragging me, sometimes kicking and snarling, along so I will get there eventually.

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About Jan Rue

Hi, I am a graduate student at Western Oregon University working towards a masters in teaching with an endorsement in reading. I am not currently teaching but hope to be able to teach in the elementary level.
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