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Stefani Relles

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Thursday is TechDay: Lifelong Literacies

technologyI’ve been thinking about writing (and reading) in the 21st century and the emphasis higher education has begun to place on pre-K–20 college preparation. But I’ve also been thinking about online writing (and reading), and the public policy dialogue that propagates the separation of paper-based and online literacy education. Perhaps if we—as researchers—begin to put writing and technology together in the same category, tomorrow’s policies (and tomorrow’s students) may follow suit.

I am a technology-enthusiast, but I am an educator first and foremost. Yes, “new technology” practices are fundamental to 21st century college and workplace success, but online engagement and digital literacy skills are also fundamental to complete “old technology” assignments. Paper-based college composition skills are no longer learned in isolation. Today’s students must be able to conduct research through online library infrastructures and upload .docx and/or .pdf files to online course servers. While the “sage on the stage” approach is no longer en vogue, teaching with technology—in the higher education courses I’ve taken—is not the norm.

And yet, teaching with technology cues learning not only with technology, but also about technology. So my blog-point is this really: As teachers, let’s not be AS savvy as our students about technology … let’s be MORE savvy. After all, aren’t they coming to us to learn? The question I’m struggling with is not simply how I can encourage students to apply and develop their online practices in ways that will continue to benefit their short and long term education and career trajectories. I’m thinking bigger: How can I teach in ways that benefit my students’ future students? As an academic, I accept that it is my responsibility to model behaviors that exceed the baseline competencies of early majority users. As a self-described technology innovator, I try to integrate current technologies with educational objectives: I use wikis to encourage peer-critique, and social networks to support student self-efficacy as it relates to writing improvement. I hold virtual office hours with students, and I write this blog on technology-related education topics.

But is this enough? I’m thinking it’s not. My affinity for and familiarity with technology is nice and all, but given new and newer technology innovations are inevitable, adaptability—not necessarily alphabetic writing or technology—is the literacy of the future, no? How do I insure my own literacy practices (let alone my teaching practices) remain in lockstep with the technology needs of tomorrow’s students and tomorrow-tomorrow’s students too?

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