Who’s Holding the Net? or Course 4, Week 1

on line net work
on line net work. source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ezee123/117560929/sizes/o/in/photostream/

I’ve recently been wondering to myself, “Self, whose job is it to teach the NETS standards to students and how do we ensure they are being met in an integrated model?”

This is something that’s come up more than once over the course of the COETAIL program, and my answer to this is usually a rather straightforward (yet, I hope, not simplistic) one: If a teacher is working within a project-based, constructivist framework and is responsibly trying to inculcate students with effective skills for high-level achievement in any content area, then I think that almost all of the NETS standards would more or less automatically be addressed.

For example, if a teacher had already designed a successful, up-to-date Middle Years Program Humanities project on Climate Change, even if the NETS standards weren’t explicitly consulted during planning, you would hopefully be able to later go down the list of standards and note that the majority of them are more or less automatically part of the project. Any project on Climate Change that didn’t involve, say, students being able to “locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.” (standard 3B) probably wouldn’t meet either the teacher’s own curricular expectations or the MYP objectives for Humanities.

This isn’t to say that all of the NETS standards are automatically met by every well-designed project, and I do think that all schools should have Technology Coaches or similar people who encourage teachers to more explicitly address them during the planning process rather than (as in my example above) shoehorning things to fit them afterward – my point is just that I don’t think adapting a particular project to address the majority of these standards should have to be a difficult task or require re-planning everything from scratch specifically to address these standards. Most of the standards seem like building blocks of good projects to me regardless of the technology angle.

As always with discussions about potentially horizontally-integrated pedagogical initiatives, I can’t speak for everybody. Teachers of certain subjects might have more difficulty seeing natural links between their projects and technology objectives like the NETS. I think I’m lucky because MYP Humanities might have more self-evidently clear connections to responsible technology use than some subjects. Humanities’ constant focus on research, evaluating sources, gathering and presenting statistical and geographic data – all of these things make it a pretty easy subject to adapt to take advantage of changing technology. I’m doubly lucky because the MYP’s most recent publications explicitly include a section giving guidance for teachers on how to approach meeting technology expectations within subject courses, for example:

The use of ICT extends to all teaching and learning in every subject across the curriculum. The effective use of ICT is an approaches to learning (ATL) skill. Schools must ensure that a whole-school approach is in place to allow students to develop information technology literacy and become competent users of computers.

(MYP Humanities Guide, published Feb. 2012, p. 53)

Successfully meeting technology standards within subject-area curricula is a bit like ESL/EAL in my mind – just as I feel that it’s every teacher’s responsibility to address different levels of English-language proficiency in the classroom, but that at the same time schools should have dedicated coaches or support teachers to guide classroom teachers as they deal with EAL issues, I think technology use should be a natural and integrated component of each subject but that teachers should be able to call on the expertise and support of dedicated coaches or coordinators.

One thought on “Who’s Holding the Net? or Course 4, Week 1

  1. I totally agree that MYP Humanities and NETS are a perfect match. I really don’t want it to be checklist of standards (for both MYP and Humanities), because I think if we’re being thoughtful about how and what we teach many of these things will be hit.
    And you stole my idea of quoting the MYP guide 🙂

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