Last night I was preparing for a meeting while spread out all over the living room. I had Chromebooks plugged charging, my devices with various applications running and was busy typing up notes to ensure I had it all prepared to run my first meeting in my new position. My daughter was home with me, set up with the table and chair like a desk in front of the computer, with her ipod and our old family iPad.
On the weekend, I had introduced her to Google docs when she was asking me to help her collect some pictures so she could write a story. This weekend project was of course just something she thought up so she wouldn’t be “bored” anymore. Even better, when she went to school on Monday, the teacher introduced the whole class to Google and gave them homework via a shared Google Doc.
As we both sat there working, I watched her become extremely frustrated by the limitations of our old iPad and was shocked and happy when she worked up the nerve to ask if she could “try one of those real computers on the floor”. I handed her the Chromebook and told her to go to it.
Within a few minutes she had it up and running, she managed to get logged in and was excited to start her project. I watched her struggle with the tracking pad, we had to learn how to find and copy images together, then I left her alone to complete the questions she needed to get done.
About an hour went by, I was busy planning, she was busy writing. A few questions popped up on her behalf. How do you type so fast mom? How do you spell various words? How do I make these capital letters? Do you think I’ll get a good mark?
Her questions made me think. Despite the fact this little girl has been using our computer to play games, our iDevices to learn how to do various things thanks to Youtube, to play games and to communicate with her friends, she still doesn’t have the basic skills she needs to be successful!
I’ve preached for a few years now that we need students to use technology, that failing to do so doesn’t prepare them well for the careers and lifestyle they have to look forward to. We can’t continue to teach them they way we were taught, their future doesn’t look the same! However, last night has made me realize we need to ensure our youngest students are not just getting the technology embedded in the learning process. We need to teach them simple tasks like keyboarding skills, we need to actively model Internet research skills and we need to ensure it starts early!
I’m starting to wonder what other basic skills do we assume our students have when we focus our attention on tackling the bigger picture? As a mom, I know what my next step is. Looks like keyboard practice and research in my near future…the question about getting good marks…now thats a whole other debate!