MASA Feature Schools Prepare ‘Digital Natives’ Technology essential to help our youths succeed in the world By Stephen J. McNew, Ed.D. A version of this article originally ran in the Monroe News “The war between natives and immigrants is ending. The natives have won. It was a blood-less conflict fought not with bullets and spears, but with iPhones and floppy disks. Now the battle between the haves and have-nots can begin. The post-millennial ‘digital native,’ a term coined by U.S. author Marc Prensky in 2001 is emerging as the globe’s dominant demographic, while the ‘digital immigrant,’ becomes a relic of a previous time.” — Oliver Joy, CNN.com article Public schools in Monroe County are no strangers to the term “digital natives.” We provide technology to prepare our students for the 21st century and work to help them possess technology fluency when they graduate from high school. It is our responsibility as educators to implement innovative initiatives that prepare students for success in a global digital workplace. By using a mixture of traditional teaching and digital technolo-gies, Monroe County students will be better prepared for the post-secondary education and the workplace. The public schools in Monroe County create student-centric learning environments that empower students to learn the curriculum, as well as to become innovators, leading to a more educated and global citizenry. In his book The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman talks about how the flattening of the world is causing a shift toward a web-enabled level playing field where only the tech-savvy are competitive. According to Michael Golden in an 10 MASA LEADER • Spring 2016 article in T.H.E. Journal from July 2006: Today’s educational system bears the responsibility of preparing a new generation for a changing workforce. Where the move was once from agricultural to industrial, and then from industrial to technological, the great transition now is from local technology to global information. Our high school students are poised to enter the global marketplace or to continue their education beyond K-12, and we must ready them for a flat world in which competition for jobs and higher education is fierce. Karl Fisch posted the following statement on his blog, The Fischbowl: “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems, we don’t even know are problems yet.” Our job as educators is to create 21st-century citizens, and technology provides the tools necessary to help us reinvent our schools to be adaptable in a world that is changing at a blinding rate. Technology is the great equalizer! Our schools start with a progressive pedagogy that recognizes the role of schools has changed, and that our role now is to help students navigate an ever-changing world, and to help them have the skills they need to adapt, create, judge, synthesize, and analyze. Our job has to be about teaching students to become critical consumers and producers of the information around them. We can’t assume that we have all the answers. We teach students to take a core set of skills and find rich, powerful answers. This happens all day, every day in our schools. When we invite the world in, rather than shut it out, we create communi-ties and institutions that are real and authentic. The availability of technology in our classrooms provides the tools necessary for our students to compete in a global economy and create a culture that is rapidly becoming more transparent and collabora-tive because of these new technologies. We are, and always have been, tasked with helping our students develop the literacy skills, context of knowledge, and practical experiences so that they can prosper in their future. However, just as the global marketplace continually changes, so do our students’ information landscapes. Without a new 21st-century skill-set and experiential learning knowledge base, success will most certainly be out of reach. Our schools reflect the world we live in today, and through the use of technology we embrace adaptability so that we can prepare for the world we will live in tomorrow. Dr. Stephen McNew is in his second year as the Superintendent of the Monroe County Intermediate School District after spending the previous 12 years as the Assistant Superintendent for curriculum and instruction. His passion is how technology enhances teaching and learning. Contact him at 734.242.5799 or stephen.mcnew@ monroeisd.org.
MASA Leader - Sprin 2016
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