There is a lot of cool technology on this list; much of it exemplifies how a "21st Century Teacher" broadens the definition of success and excellence. I can see a lot of differentiation through podcasting, Skyping, social networking, collaboration on a global scale, virtual field trips and hand held devices.
Countless classrooms have been liberated by these technological advances - and countless other classrooms have yet to be liberated, but may shortly be. Everyday, more and more teachers are discovering a whole new world based on these technologies.
For too long school has placed a premium on written essays and reports. Other forms of communication have always been there, but today's technology makes the creating, collaborating and sharing of video and audio projects even more of a possibility than ever.
This is all very cool.
This list could be seen as a radical shift... a technological revolution... the dawn of a new classroom age...
... yet... what if Alfie Kohn is right and some of this technology "amounts to a 21st-century veneer on old fashioned, teacher-centered instruction"?
Don't get me wrong, I love technology; I utilize it everyday with my students - but I fear that we are still driven to distraction by technology. I fear that we are having a technology debate masquerading as an education debate.
Noam Chomsky put it this way:
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."Technology is certainly providing a lively debate amongst policy makers, parents, students and teachers. It's a debate that people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are more than happy to facilitate.
Here's what I mean.
Have a look at number five from the 21 signs you are a 21st Century Teacher:
You ask your students to study and create reports on a controversial topic...and you grade their video submissions.Can you see how the spectrum for debate is limited to the incidentals and implementation and not on whether we should be grading at all? The lively debate is over what we shall grade and how we shall do it, thus the presupposition that grading is something all teachers should and need to do, continues to live a long and healthy life.
I'm not saying we can't talk about technology.
That would be foolish.
But I am saying we need to talk about the pedagogy behind how children construct their own understanding at least as often as wikis, blogs and Twitter.