The Technology Ecology

Today I’m heading to Denver for the T+L conference. T+L is the Technology + Learning conference of the National School Board Association. This year it’s in Denver, Colorado, October 27-29.

I’ll be doing a new session on Wednesday, Oct 28th at 3:30 PM called, “Engage Them! Project-based 21st Century Technology Literacy Curriculum”. It’s about several ideas:

  • How to develop an engaging technology literacy curriculum for the 21st century, with students in mind and with students involved
  • The difference between technology literacy and fluency
  • Developing a “Technology Ecology”
  • Why projects and technology go together
  • Showing videos of students who are doing these things in their own schools

I’m not sure I’m the first one to use the term “Technology Ecology”, but I’m starting to really like it. The big idea of this talk is that technology isn’t a subject as much as an ecology – an overarching web of opportunities that can support all kinds of subjects and areas of personal interest. So when we talk about technology curriculum, we need to stretch our minds a bit and imagine new possibilities and connections.

I think a school with a technology ecology is one that is constantly asking the participants to do more with technology, challenging the status quo, and always trying new things. A curriculum that embraces this mindset would reach outside class walls to ask students not to just learn to use a word processor, but to to create word processed documents that were meaningful and useful to the student, or perhaps to the school. Why make just movies in technology class when you could make movies that satisfy a history assignment, or help younger kids learn math, or introduce new students to your school. An ecology that looks for authentic projects and embraces the potential of youth to do important things and make important contributions, using the digital tools that they know and love.

After this session, I’ll post more about it here.

Generation YES is a co-sponsor of the T+L conference, and we’ll be down in the co-sponsor booth area, number 118. So if you miss the session, come by and say hi!

Hopefully there will be a T+L Tweetup too – if you’d like to connect, please follow me at smartinez


2 Replies to “The Technology Ecology”

  1. Sylvia,
    I love your term, technology ecology, to describe putting together projects and technology. I wish you well at the conference. Will there be proceedings? Is there a website where all of the presentations will be archived?

  2. What started as a twitter conversation has moved to a longer format post…

    I’m an Instructional technology Coach, and a building I have just started with this year has asked me to help them develop a 3 year tech plan. I’m very much one of those “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” type people, so of course when I read this post, it made me think about how this would apply to a building tech plan.

    Based upon some reading I’d done recently, I already had a “different” sort of goal in mind for this tech plan.

    – Doug Johnson:

    – Jeff Utecht: [PDF]

    After reading this post I started thinking about how true it is that technology is an ecology. I’m no scientist, but a few minutes on Wikipedia and the parallels leaped out at me.

    radiation = administration & leadership
    photosynthesis = transformational learning with technology
    gravity = budgets
    erosion = aging computers
    conservation biology = IT Staff
    niche construction = instructional tech coaches
    Hadean period – 1990’s
    hydrothermal vent = the internet
    trophic pyramid = inverse of new Bloom’s taxonomy
    producers = higher order skills
    consumers = lower level skills
    food webs = curricular integration

    You could go on and on. None of these are literal, but they make a good symbolic analogy.

    With that in mind, I’ve been thinking this morning about how a building “tech plan” could focus more on behaviors that support the ecology than on roadmapping gadget availability, as they so often do.

    I’m starting with a supportive administrator (the Sun) and a limited seed budget for technology via the PTO. While buying gadgets is a concrete way to focus a tech plan, I’d rather build a plan centered on student learning and spend the money supporting an ecosystem that values technology. What I’m wondering now is how that looks in a “tech plan” format.

    Thanks for expanding my thinking!

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