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I think the lack of digital literacy among professionals contributes to the misuse or inactive use of digital tools. Teachers do not feel knowledgeable of the tools they are using therefore, they choose not to implement them in instruction.

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Schools do need to adapt – something we all know – but of course funding is always the problem.

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I like the idea of a more learner-centered approach to education, but I am also curious as to how we would create measurable goals and objectives, as well as, facilitate accountability.

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Teachers want to integrate ndigital media literacy in their curricular planning, however, more professional development is needed to facilitate appropriate use.

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You write…” This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking”…This is very difficult to get across especially to teachers who are caught up in the “technology” of it all – im my school here in Ireland I am beginning to think through a Web 2 syllabus (for want of a better phrase) so that teachers can get on with teaching confident that the students have the Web 2 basics right.

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It is my opinion that teachers are so concerned with standards and achievement pushed on them by those in power that they do not have much time to consider using digital media literacy. I know that in my school and even the district, professional development is centered around learning how to use the new language arts series or how to unwrap standards. Teachers need support in learning how to apply new technology in the classroom.

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I agree Charlene. We teach in the same district so I know exactly what you are talking about. The only “technology” training we get is on Power Teacher every year so we can do our gradebook and that’s about it at my school. I have shared things I would like to learn how to do with technology but it falls on deaf ears. I guess I have to figure it out myself and learn as I go.

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Professional learning for digital media is a problem in schools today. Many of the schools that I work in have new Promethean boards that the teachers have not been properly trained to use. I think of all the experiences that the students could have if the teachers were properly trained to use the tools that they have in their schools.

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I agree with all of you. Many of the teachers at my school would L-O-V-E to use their Smart Boards as more than just an expensive white board, but really aren’t sure how…so there is certainly a break-down somewhere along the way in terms of training and integration. Luckily, a lot of new resources offer GPS correlated ‘canned’ lessons that have helped us get moving in the right direction. But that being said, like Charlene and Vickie were commenting, there are SO many things pushed on teachers, so many goals to accomplish, that often times we find ourselves settling for just getting the ‘basics’ down so that we can do our jobs. Technology can certainly become a hindrance in those instances.

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We have had Promethian boards for about three years. JJ, I’m sure you know of Fort Discovery. We had a guy come from there and train us and then retrain us about six months later. I learned a lot. He didn’t work for the company, but I still felt highly informed. The biggest thing that I find with my students using my Promethian board is how they have to hold the pen. They don’t quite have the right form and it takes forever to get something on the board. I guess if every teaceher, including myself, allowed the students to use them more, then this wouldn’t be a problem. For all the nonusers of media in my county, we are now evaluated using Class Keys. The use of technology is one area we are evaluated on. So for those veteran teachers that hate technology, they better hop to it or retire early because being evaluated on technology use is here!

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I can relate to what everyone has said so far. We don’t have much technology at my school, but what we do have often goes unused because teachers have not received any training on how to properly use it in the classroom. Training cannot be just one session where we are shown the basics. We need support in the classroom to help get started and we currently do not have any personnel to do that. The technology support specialists were cut to one for every three schools last year in my district. The one we share barely has time to handle our “issues” so training is basically out of the question.

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An additional challenge for teachers is managing online learning environments so that they are safe. Protecting students from themselves and others in a digital world is an entirely new duty of care that most teachers feel unable to meet. Further, teaching students how to participate responsibly in online learning whether it be through social networks or mobile devices remains a major concern for all educators. Asimov’s Three Laws have relevance here and the notion of ‘Do no harm’ is a good starting point for discussion. However it is important not to underestimate the difficulties teachers face when moving into a virtual world that is often beyond their own experience.

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I think it is less about tools and more about teaching approach. Teachers need to let go – and learn with their students. A student-centered approach is placing the student at the centre of the activity and supporting the discovery process. I know this is easier said then done but little steps work.

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I like the comment that digital media literacy is less about tools and more about thinking. I think we, in education, get so hung up on the “device” that we don’t think about the thinking.

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The discussion on the agreement of the importance of digital literacy skills for teachers as well as students is quite on point. Teachers need access and time for professional development to increase their technology skills and literacy. The confidence gained will translate into better utilization for classroom learning.

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The discussion on the importance of technology literacy skills is on point.
Teachers need access to an time for technology skills and literacy development.
The confidence gained will increase the utilization in classroom learning/teaching.

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I agree that digital literacy skills and techniques needs to be included in teacher education that said time for and access to continuing professional development is also key to change.
Increasing teacher technology literacy and skills can translate to increased utilization in curriculum planning and better classroom learning.

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The really big question here is: how do you fundamentally change the system we have without having the students within it ‘lose’? There’s a lot more to the issue than teachers learning how to use things, but that is a significant speed-bump on the road to change. I do wonder, though, what would happen if we just found ways to let the kids learn to use this stuff for their learning, and we teachers step back a bit and watch, maybe guide?

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Along with current trends, the Advisory Board notes critical challenges that schools face, especially those that are likely to continue to affect education over the five-year time period covered by this report. Like the trends, these are drawn from a careful analysis of current events, papers, articles, and similar sources, as well as from the personal experience of the Advisory Board members in their roles as leaders in education and technology. Those challenges ranked as most significant in terms of their impact on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in the coming years are listed here, in the order of importance assigned them by the Advisory Board.

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  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. The challenge is due to the fact that despite the widespread agreement on its importance, training in digital literacy skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and school district professional development programs. As teachers begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral.
  • Students are different, but educational practice and the materials that support it are changing only slowly. Schools are still using materials developed to teach the students of decades ago, but todays students are actually very different in the way they think and work. Schools need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning models that are engaging to younger generations. Many education professionals feel that a shift to a more learner-centered model focused on the development of individual potential instead of the imposition of a body of knowledge would lead to deeper and more sustained learning across the curriculum. To support such a change, both teaching practice and the tools used in the classroom must adapt. Assessment has also not kept pace with new modes of working, and must change along with teaching methods, tools, and materials.
  • Many policy makers and educators believe that deep reform is needed, but at the same time, there is little agreement as to what a new model of education might look like. It is difficult to envision profound change in a system as firmly established as K-12 education is today. Proponents of change promote more learner-centered approaches; open content; programs for continuing teacher professional development in partnership with higher education institutions; and the use of social networking tools to increase access to peers and professionals for both teachers and students, but not everyone is in agreement. Opinions also differ on how to make (and measure) progress at all and whether it is better to build success slowly, using pilots and small proof-of-concept classrooms, or to push for rapid and radical change on a broader scale.
  • A key challenge is the fundamental structure of the K-12 education establishment. As long as maintaining the basic elements of the existing system remains the focus of efforts to support education, there will be resistance to any profound change in practice. Learners have increasing opportunities to take their education into their own hands, and options like informal education, online education, and home-based learning are attracting students away from traditional educational settings. If the system is to remain relevant it must adapt, but major change comes hard in education.
  • Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom — but these experiences are often undervalued or unacknowledged. Beyond the classroom walls, students can take advantage of online resources, explore ideas and practice skills using games and other programs they may have on systems at home, and interact with their extensive — and constantly available — social networks. Within the classroom, learning that incorporates real life experiences like these is not occurring enough and is too often undervalued when it does take place. This challenge is an important one in K-12 schools, because it results in a lack of engagement in learning on the part of students who are seeking some connection between their world, their own lives, and their experience in school.
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These trends and challenges are having a profound effect on the way we experiment with, adopt, and use emerging technologies. These aspects of the world that surround and permeate education serve as a frame for considering the probable impacts of the emerging technologies listed in the sections that follow.