20 February 2009

Bill Ferriter on The Curse of the Digitally Illiterate

Bill Ferriter, in this recent edition of ASCD's Inservice blog, discusses The Curse of the Digitally Illiterate. He asks if it is a crime to be a digitally illiterate educator. I have to agree. However, my definition of digitally illiterate goes beyond not knowing how to use technology tools to improve instruction. I would like to include a lack of willingness to explore the possibilities of including new technologies in the classroom.

I have written about using cellphones in the classroom before. Particularly in the instance of using the cell phones as dictionaries, these tools could be used to improve equity. I have students who despise taking notes, even when absolutely necessary, but will gladly type away on their Sidekicks (and they are taking notes...I check). The geography textbook that my district adopted has the entire book in mp3 format for students, yet students aren't allowed to bring mp3 players to school.

Even though these options are available to students, it is difficult, if not impossible, for students to use these tools in the classroom because of school and district policy. It seems that, just as the ink pen was once a feared piece of technology, so are modern tools. It all comes back to education. We must educate ourselves and our students in the appropriate use of these powerful tools.