“Technology is not related to instruction”

The sentiment above has been expressed by those who prefer to concentrate their energies on preserving 19th century instructional practices, and this topic is debated endlessly, so for the moment I’m going to concede the position as being dearly held by many, and it sounds good when there is no immediate consequence to holding it.

However, while “There is no connection between instruction and technology” may be a position held by both practitioners and recipients of this thing we call “education,” the reality in the modern work world seems barely aware of the argument.

My recent brush with the media was instructive:  http://www.reuters.com/video/2011/09/07/roadkill-research-link to roadkill videoreveals-clues-for-cons?videoId=221334793&videoChannel=74 

Ben Gruber, the Reuters reporter who scheduled, interviewed, shot and edited this story, was a history major in college with a passion for writing and politics.  Over the course of his career, he was presented with a choice, along with his colleagues, between becoming technology-fluent or getting out of the business.  Multimedia news stories were once produced by a writer, cameraman, sound man, producer and (often) a driver.  Ben Gruber: one guy with a car, camera, tripod, and clip-on microphone.

If you weren’t willing to adapt to the changes in the profession, if you felt you didn’t have the tools to evolve professionally, the decision as to whether you would remain a Reuters reporter would not have been left for you to make.  No one wants to hear, “But no one showed me how to do that!” They only want to hear, “Sure, I can figure that out.”

Is the plea for students to master “21st Century Skills” really just cover for ed tech people to convince others to buy more toys?  Is it really okay to graduate someone who can only write, then another who can only run a camera, and another who can only drive the car?  Ben demonstrates here that we are advised to pay attention to what it takes to be a contributor to the world in 2011 and into the future.

The world that is looking for people to run modern systems has little room for narrowly-trained specialists, and desperate for creative problem-solvers who are willing to keep learning and create learning environments for themselves for their entire working lives.


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