Following suit, my blog post is going to be mostly concerned with the assigned reading chapter in DeVoss' Because Digital Writing Matters. That being said, this chapter was, as I see it, a lot more informative in the way teachers can address the use of technology in class, especially when considering assessments or standards fit for the classroom and school. As DeVoss points out, this is a vital topic, as "there is no escaping the fact that the proliferation of new digital tools is happening concurrently with a strong national and state accountability movement that emphasizes standards and assessment as the centerpiece for educational reform" (89).
In developing these standards, DeVoss mentions the names of many impressive organizations and their goals, but many of these groups are external to the school. While I agree that our students need to develop and practice twenty-first century skills that will open academic and career paths for them (I'm reminded of the video "A Vision of K-12 Students Today" I once saw - linked below), it really does come down to the individual school. For instance, there was a teacher in one of my last grad courses who worked at a school that purchased iPads for each of their students. Teachers at that school were expected to make use of these tools in their lessons so that students could practice twenty-first century skills and digital literacy. However, the school I work at would never be able to afford such an expense. If standards and assessments were created at the state or national level, is there a way to properly equipped each student with the necessary tools to meet those standards and succeed on assessments? Also, are we, as teachers, properly trained to educate these students in the ways of technology? I know of many teachers that still scoff at the idea of PowerPoint, having their notes for the day plastered on a projected Word document. The only kind of technology training that my school offers is an optional lecture or two during our last PD day.
My school has about 2,000 students and limited computer labs. This year, my school introduced the math and literacy tests i-Ready. This computer-based assessment was created to see if students are prepared to move on to the next level of math or English for the following year. Unfortunately, there were huge problems that should have been obvious from the start. First, the teachers were panicking because there was an immediate rush to reserve each of the computer labs. It got to the point where teachers were asking one another if students could use their classroom computer during certain periods to finish the assessment. The resources for this assessment were just not there. The other problem had to do with the students and their experience with computer-based assessments. You would assume that because this generation of students are generally exposed to technology more often than any other, that they would have little problem taking an online assessment, but the level of confusion and frustration was staggering. Many students had to schedule times to retake the exam after school with a personal proctor because they were caught cheating. Apparently, the temptation to open another tab and look up a word or passage was too much for some students - a temptation that they would not have felt had this been a paper-based test or if we had been given laptops programmed to only open certain tabs or websites.
When I hear "new standards and assessment" for anything, digital literacy included, I groan in despair of what administration expects of us with such limited resources.
On the opposite side, how can we do right by our students if we are not properly preparing them for the future? It is obvious that technology is becoming more and more of a needed aspect in careers and even lifestyles, and the skills associated with the use of technology are just as important. Making standards and seeing if these standards are being met through an assessment seems to make sense, at least on some level, if we are to make them, as Ribble and Bailey say, global citizens (97).
Also, just to slip this in there out of interest, how do people feel about Wikipedia? It allows a certain level of collaboration, but also runs the risk of becoming overrun by false information. Should we allow our students to rely on something so shaky for academic purposes?