Technological literacy provides core skills for future careers

By Victoria Gill

Opinion Editor

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 12.44.00 PMWhat happened to the days when students used to write on paper with a pencil? Technology in schools has risen in use since the computer was first invented. Presently, technology in the classroom has a limitation in solely being used for educational purposes, but can it also provide a personal incentive?

In a current age where student lives are more social and self-enhancing in social media and internet surfing, sometimes especially with laptops, cell phones, and mp3 players this is a distraction and the incorporation is a waste of time and too hard to control.

Are teachers doing too much to ban the use of technology? I think WC has a relationship with the Office of Academic Skills to help students with accessibility and learning needs that should be applied to most students who may not have the drastic need like their peers. So, are they just not using it well?

In the book, “Music Learning and Tech in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence Vol. 2,” the editors, Gary McPherson and Graham Welch,  cite a survey of concerns and experiences between music teachers who incorporate technology and specific computer programs in music theory courses. However, students are not engaged. These students, on the other hand, are having a relationship with similar technological programs as they creatively express themselves beyond the curriculum. This situation is known as “relationship pedagogies.”

According to the book, the need to bridge a gap between two generations is “a relationship between the teacher and students that acknowledges the power differentials and provides a clear framework for moral and ethical responsibility.”

There is also a learning curve as some teachers, even here at WC, do not have the expertise in properly using emerging technology to students, let alone in conjunction with their curriculum.

“Pedagogy is best defined, then, as the act of teaching together with the ideas, values and collective histories which inform, shape and explain that act,” the book states.

This involves the practice of identifying actions and decisions that are inclusive, responsive, and moral to the need of the students, giving students the opportunity to emotionally respond to classroom-given problems to solve.

In many ways, the College has to be this advanced in tech resources due to the career world graduates enter, where the ignorance of Microsoft and Adobe suites, or other types of programs, is deadly to job opportunities.

“It also underscores that replacing teachers with technology is not a successful formula. Instead, strong gains in achievement occur by pairing technology with classroom teachers who provide real-time support and encouragement to underserved students,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia.

Technology should be placed in the center of our educational system. Engagement of new problem-solving situations that allows students to adapt to the learning curve through the engagement of technology.

Brian Palmer, director of digital media services, is known for his lead in the IDEAWORKS Innovations Suite in the basement of Miller Library. He programs with co-curricular specific clubs and works with them both in digital workspaces, recording studios, and craft training.

“Anything from doing like a one-time session with a business management class where we’re talking about using microcontrollers to collect sensor data to capture information from the real work and bring it to the digital world,” Palmer said.

In a report by Linda Darling-Hammond, Molly B. Zielezinkski, and Shelley Goldman, “Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning,” low-income schools and often students of color were found to be less likely to own computers or have a way to use the internet.

According to Palmer, by putting everyone on an equal playing field while learning about technology, “you organically have that potential for unique innovation.”

Talking about technology as a whole in both tangible and intangible process of creation is a way for students to digest what they are learning both theoretically and literally. Talking about his experience with the astronomy class and lab, Palmer had them use and compare telescopes and cameras. The telescope is limiting with viewing galaxies and many stars, but cameras grasp a greater range of view and understanding what cannot be seen.

“We [the library and tech staff] try to figure out where you can bring technology into what the subject matter is and allow that tech and experience to help that subject matter become either easier to remember or easier to learn or more deeply understood or more exciting in some cases because you experience it more viscerally. You feel it, see it, and touch it more than just in other cases where they’re more theoretical,” Palmer said.

An example of this was when Palmer collaborated with a Biology course and talked about DNA structures, later 3-D printing separate structures to connect together to see how pieces fit together and separately. According to him, students say this clicks better.

“For some person who can sit there and hear a lecture and that spoken word is the ideal way to do it. Other people need really good visuals, so technology in the classroom: that audio-visual aspect, is the really important thing,” Palmer said.

In the past he co-taught with a librarian a first-year seminar class, at the time called GRW: Cultivating a Maker-Mindset.

In the case of this class, it is front-loaded with learning about the research, and toward the end with more independence and feedback to shape collaborative projects.

“Part of the idea about Maker Culture is this participatory aspect of it where to just talk about it you’re not getting as much understanding of it as if you are participating in it while you discuss it,” Palmer said.

There is a difference in comfort level between teacher and students. There needs to be a desire to learn and discover together.

According to Palmer, he has been working with some of the same professors repeatedly on how to bring technology into the classroom creatively, and there have been new professors approaching him. Some subjects may not lend themselves well to technology innovation, but Palmer believes there’s always something that could be used.

“The big picture goal you take away is that you get good at becoming a better problem solver. You end up learning about all of these resources that are available to you. Ways to be able to utilize digital fabrication and design,” Palmer said.

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