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Inside Teaching : June 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org ON MY SHELF 45 On one side of my desk right now is Don Tapscott's latest work, Grownup Digital: How the Net Generation is changing your world. On the other side is the Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK, but these days referred to as TPACK), from the Committee on Innovation and Technology of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Tapscott's latest work is compelling reading for educators, and is well organised in three sections: 'Meet the Net Gen,' 'Transforming institutions' and 'Transforming society.' One chapter in 'Transforming institutions' that directly relates to education, 'The Net Generation as learners: Rethinking education,' examines the way many schools and curriculum continue to be designed for the Industrial Age. Tapscott tells a story about delivering a speech to a group of university presidents about how universities need to change. One president indicates that funds are the main problem. Another explains that their models of learning built decades ago are hard to change. Another says that the biggest problem is that the average age of staff is 57. Yet another exclaims, 'We've got a bunch of professors reading from handwritten notes, writing on blackboards, and the students are writing down what they say. This is a pre-Gutenberg model -- the printing press is not even an important part of the learning paradigm.' Net Gen-ers, according to Tapscott, need to learn how to look for information, analyse and synthesise it, and critically evaluate it. This compares with the old model where education was about students absorbing content, provided mainly by the teacher. To succeed meant being able to regurgitate what was committed to memory. Tapscott argues that, since students can find the facts in an instant, this old Industrial Age model no longer makes sense. It's how you navigate the digital world, he explains, and what you do with the information you discover that counts. Interestingly, Tapscott refers to Papert to make the point that technology enables new ways of learning. Getting back to the Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, it's a significant work because it moves us beyond Lee Shulman's earlier work on pedagogical content knowledge, which was adequate for informing the design of teacher education programs before the internet and the pervasiveness of ICT in an increasingly networked, digital world. The Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge is essential reading for anyone involved in the design of teacher education programs and the continuing professional development of teachers. I'm convinced that pedagogical content knowledge is no longer sufficient for the paradigm that Tapscott and Papert envision. In the centre of my desk are three key documents which will shape and regulate our behaviour in teacher education. These include the draft National Professional Standards for Teachers. Slightly on top of that document is the Queensland government's A Flying Start for Queensland Children: Education green paper. Buried underneath both is the Commonwealth government's Digital Strategy for Teachers and School Leaders. The Digital Strategy for Teachers and School Leaders, in my view, is an excellent document that has some understanding of the digital world we live in. I suspect that Papert and Tapscott would approve of it! Among its aims is to ensure that the implementation of the national curriculum promotes the use of digital technologies as an integral rather than optional part of curriculum delivery. Based on the work plan of the Teaching for the Digital Age Advisory Group (TDAAG), it aims to build pre-service teacher capability so that future teachers achieve competence in the effective, creative and innovative inclusion of technologies in teaching and learning. This is exciting but, as I mentioned, it sits under those other two documents. A Flying Start outlines a review of teacher training, and that's not a misprint: it really does refer to training, not education, and foregrounds a 'particular attention...to school discipline and teaching literacy and numeracy,' and that's not a