Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top Posts #7 - Pew Survey Shows We Are Not Adequately Preparing Students

As I look to unplug a bit during the first week of summer vacation, I am continuing to repost my top posts from last year. Below is #7 from last November.
Analog Digital
Analog Digital (Photo credit: DigitalAlan)
A very interesting study, titled How Teens Do Research In The Digital World, was released by the Pew Research Center this week.  Unfortunately, the part that seemed to get the most publicity centered around the fact that the majority of the teachers surveyed, 64% to be exact, said that "digital tools do more to distract students than to help them academically."

A Mashable post by Neha Prakash caught my eye with a headline title Technology Creating A Generation of Distracted Students.  

A More Accurate Headline in my mind would have been - 
Majority of Teachers Take No Responsibility For Lack Of Student Classroom Engagement

The feelings of teachers surveyed are contradictory. On one hand, those surveys say the following:
"Overall, teachers who participated in this study characterize the impact of today’s digital environment on their students’ research habits and skills as mostly positive..."
On the other hand those surveyed said this:
"some teachers worry about students’ overdependence on search engines; the difficulty many students have judging the quality of online information; the general level of literacy of today’s students; increasing distractions pulling at students and  poor time management skills; students’ potentially diminished critical thinking capacity; and the ease with which today’s students can borrow from the work of others."  
The findings in the excerpt above leave me with the following questions:

  • Who is responsible for teaching students how to judge the quality of online information?
  • Whose definition of literacy are we using here? 
  • How many educators can meet NCTE's definition of literacy?
  • Are students distracted because of technology or because of boring lessons/assignments?
  • Can't increased access help us improve the critical thinking capacity of our students?
While many things have changed for learners and things have certainly become more complicated on many levels, one thing that has remained a constant is the fact that who we know is a critical facet in our learning journey.  We need our students to have access to people who see the possibilities and are willing to embrace some of the struggles that are inherent in a world where learners have so many options.  
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  1. Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for students blogs.

  2. Your comment about teachers taking no responsibility for student engagement reminds me of a project a few teachers put together to
    "gamify" their classes. (http://www.superfunner.com/)

    It seems that engagement isn't really even considered when designing curriculum, so it's no surprise that the current system isn't as engaging as it could be, contrasted with a video game who's sole purpose it is to engage people.

    Great post!

  3. I don't know, Patrick.

    My guess is that this is another example of a middle ground -- or an instructional sweet spot -- that we still haven't found yet.

    I think attention remains an incredibly important skill for being successful. I also think that being attentive is a skill that is fundamentally suffering for EVERYONE simply because switching our focus is SO easy in today's world.

    Heck, I skimmed your blog post even though I WAS interested in the topic, motivated by the format and engaged by the author.

    Sure there are boring lessons -- but I really do think we need to start talking to kids about intellectual persistence and stamina too. We can't put all the expectation on the teacher to find ways to engage learners. At some point learners have to find ways to be engaged, too.

    Any of this make sense?

    1. Bill - Thanks for your comment! I think I definitely have to be careful of not going to the extreme on this one. There is a definite tendency for some to let kids off the hook and not let them struggle a bit with more complex tasks. I think that there is a huge middle ground here and that we need to be sure to encourage more of this conversation to make sure that none of us are on clinging to either edge of this one. Most need to take a step or two towards the middle from whichever direction they are coming from.

      I hope my rambling makes as much sense as yours?

  4. Let me offer a very easy solution as to who should be providing this instruction -- your school librarian! School librarians have the specific training and expertise needed to guide students in their mastery of digital literacy. Collaborative lessons with teachers can make a world of difference. If not offered, as it should be, just ask!

    Corrine McNabb
    Mountain View School District
    Kingsley, PA

  5. "How many educators can meet NCTE's definition of literacy?"

    You make this reference quite frequently that the NCTE has expended its definition of literacy. However, I don't see this as anything but the time honored tradition of one academic department trying to assert its authority over other disciplines. Basically NCTE is saying everything that happens in school is literacy, and therefor English teachers should have more authority. Just because English teachers call something literacy, does not make it so. It doesn't even mean that it is beneficial to redefine and dilute the meaning of literate.

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