Perhaps our congressional leaders just don't understand technology enough to realize the value of including it in our educational system or maybe they just assume kids will learn on their own as they discover things on the internet. It's a tough call really when determining the root of our lack of technology training in public schools.
It could be the distraction factor. Technology has in many ways changed the nature of communication, taking a toll on people's attention spans, just for conversations much less lectures in class. What educators and policymakers must realize is that anything can be a distraction and the fact that students are using the amazing new technological innovations at their hands as ways to distract them from studies, reveals more of their lack of education in training in using these devices in productive, life-changing ways.
How Removing Technology and Censoring Websites Hurts
It makes sense that educators want to block out distractions (and cheating) in classes. As all new technological devices do this, it's understandable why so many schools ban them. However, banning technological devices altogether and blocking sites that could potentially aid learning (Wikipedia has been blocked by multiple schools before) will disenfranchise our next generation of students with no productive sense of media literacy who will be unable to find jobs in a market full of internet media positions.
Just look at how online media is replacing print media, Netflix is replacing Blockbuster, and the music industry has restructured their whole business model due to the internet. It is really hard to deny right now that the future of the economy is in the internet, especially considering the continuing boom of social media.
Anyone can tell this would be the worst time to discourage technology use from our next generation job market. The egregiously little amount of educational material regarding media literacy is frankly disturbing. Rather than receiving punishment for bringing a smartphone to school, students should be receiving an education about how to use that device to organize their workflow and even publish and market valuable content.
Most importantly, students must be taught how they can use the internet to build their careers, reputations, and even earn some income. If students are not taking the internet seriously enough, this is due to the fact that they have received no formal training on how to use it practically.
I know it's really hard to picture where technology and media literacy fit within the already bloated course load and curriculum that's crammed into public schools, but just try to imagine the benefits of a proper media literacy education.
Imagine a school in which students not only learn how to write well or play an instrument, but they learn how to publish these skills strategically on the internet in a way that gives them positive recognition and reinforcement. Imagine how much more they would try to accomplish if they recognized the internet as a lucrative sandbox at their disposal ready for any passion that they can express through words, audio, or video.
Some of the positive effects of using the synergy of technology and creative expression have already been demonstrated, such as the work of students at a New Zealand primary and junior college. I love that these schools have empowered their students by showing them that they have a presence in the online sphere. This encourages them to create better work that they can then publish and perhaps even receive recognition.
This guest contribution was submitted by Lenore Holditch, who specializes in writing about top online colleges. Questions and comments can be sent to: holditch.lenore @ gmail.com.