Wednesday, January 30, 2013

High School Technology Curriculum

I teach in a private PreK-12 school with a total student body somewhere between 350 and 400.  We're not big, but we try to do what we can with the resources we have available.  Recently, I was asked by our principal to contemplate what a high school technology curriculum would look like.

May I take a moment and be honest here? I don't think I realized till the other day that there are no high school technology courses at our school.  I just thought there were.  That means that my middle school course is our "end game" as far as intentional technology teaching.  Something needs to change, and I'm glad I got to play a part in that.

After some pondering, here is what I came up with...

I may be thinking outside the box on this one, but I would really like to see the high school technology curriculum be highly individualized and focused on creativity.  Let me explain.

Former students of mine have started photography businesses straight out of high school.  A friend of mine is a university media professor and talks about students who start successful tech-related businesses while still in college.  It’s a different world and since we don’t have a current curriculum to revamp we can be on the cutting edge. Believe it or not, Northern Kentucky high schools are requiring students to choose their career path as they enter their Freshman year and choose classes that coincide with that choice.  It leads me to think about how we can use technology in the high school to help launch some careers starting after graduation.  
While our EL and MS curricula are in the middle of being revamped, I envision that a student will have learned a lot of computer applications and digital citizenship leading up to 8th grade.  They will have had countless hours of exploring the virtues of iPads, even as we slowly start introducing iPads to lower grades. Through the 20 Percent Time project, they will also have a taste of using technology to create and not consume.  Let’s take it up a notch in high school.
I am a proponent of using technology to create not consume media.  It pushes students to the higher ends of Bloom’s Taxonomy and keeps them from thinking merely in facts. However, I’m coming to realize that even on my most creative day I’m still quite the tech consumer.  I have no idea how the pixels get on the screen, how those pixels travel from this computer through the air and through wires to you or a reader in the Philippines.  I have no idea how to design a web site or how my digital camera works.  I merely manipulate technology to do what I want -- but in a manner that it was made to do.  Surely when I type a blog post I am thinking more critically than if I am memorizing facts with flash cards, but there is more I can be learning.  There is some critical thinking going on with what we do already, but can we do more in high school?
I’m dreaming.  I have no idea how we will accomplish all this, what our timeline will be, or who will teach it all, but these are my dreams.

  • K-2: Basic computer functions and parts, basic computer applications, Internet safety and digital citizenship, some use of iPads, technology integration with other classes.
  • 3-5: Slightly more advanced computer functions and applications (save, word processing, copy and paste, flash drive), introduce GAFE, Internet safety and digital citizenship, integrate iPads into regular curriculum, technology integration with other classes.
  • 6-8: Build on digital citizenship and Internet safety foundation, social media, completely immersed in GAFE and mobile devices, technology integration with other courses, individualize project.
  • 9-10: The basics of a number of concepts: web design, graphic design, networking, photography, animation, servers, etc.  
  • 11-12: Independent study -- students develop a project along their interest level.  Research it, build it, make it happen.   
This has raised conversations about all sorts of stuff.
  • Who is going to teach these HS courses? I look at this and see that it has to be someone who knows a little bit about a lot of things. This person will have to be comfortable to say, "I don't know about that, but I'm willing to learn along with you." Flexibility and humility will be key character qualities.
  • How will Common Core play into this? Actually, this has Common Core written all over it. Technical reading, collaborating with real world experts, writing, higher level thinking. I like it!
  • STEM? Yes and no. It depends on which angle the students take, but even the most "artsy" of projects will need to have a technology bend to it.
  • Computer lab? It will look different, but that's OK. Read this article about how to fix it.
So, I need your help. What am I missing? Am I totally off my rocker? What would you do differently? Thanks!

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