It’s 2017. Most junior high and high schools now have a technology class of some sort. Elementary schools have lab time built into their schedules. At one time, I would have called this progress. Now I’m starting to see this as a halt to progress.
What is Technology Class?
I am a former technology teacher. Junior high students would take my class and learn how to use software. I taught things like MS Office Suite and Photoshop. I also had a class where I taught hardware and networking. There may still be a place for specialized classes like the latter, but the former needs to be put to rest. For the sake of this post, I’m talking about these general technology classes where kids are creating Powerpoint presentations and learning word processing skills.
The alternative is embedding things into classes. When we teach technology classes, we are treating our students like they are adults who did not grow up with this technology. Just because we as adults feel WE need to take a course on using Google Drive, it does not mean a student needs a class to learn to use it. If we are doing it right, the students are learning the nuances of different platforms through use. There should be very little direct instruction on using it. Yes, it is helpful to work with kids on organizing a tool like Google Drive, but I don’t think that is teaching technology as much as it is just simply teaching.
If we truly want to integrate technology into classrooms and not just use technology in classrooms, dumping the current iteration of technology class is the logical next step.
What to keep
I have no interest in getting rid of specialized “technology” courses. I used to teach Photoshop in my technology course. I think there is still a place for something like that in a graphic arts course. It may be completely driven by technology, but the concepts being taught are not how to rasterize a layer. The concepts being taught are about effectively using white space and fonts. A class on video editing is another such example. It will be important for students to learn the tools they are using, but the class focus will be on editing and lighting instead of effective use of Final Cut Pro.