How little it takes to be “technologically proficient”

Have you ever run into resources produced by your state board of education that made you scratch your head and say “hmmm….?” I had that experience today as I took a technology survey that the Colorado Department of Education created to determine the level of “technological proficiency” that teachers had attained. The “hmmm…” part came right at the beginning with this list of definitions of terms. My first giggle was at the instructions to print the page of terms. It kinda reminded me of a time a few years ago when administrators and secretaries would print out emails and put them in our staff mailboxes. So early 2000’s.

My second hmmm…. was their definition of digital tools: computers and internet connections. Yup, just those. Forget about cell phones, iPods, iPads, and whatever others have popped up lately. No need to discuss those in this survey, apparently. Again, early 2000’s technology is being discussed.

The major snicker I had came with the discussion of  “technology-rich learning environments” which has this lovely quote: “Examples of this are the Blackboard online classroom system, encouraging PowerPoint presentations, or encouraging the use of internet search engines (such as Google).” Ick. If that’s all it takes to create “technology-rich learning environments” then many teachers had them established years ago, maybe during the reign of Office ’97.

As I see it, there are two possible explanations for this bizarre retro list of technology terms that appears in a supposedly modern survey of technological proficiency. Either A) the writers of the survey wanted their terms to be non-threatening to teachers and so chose vocabulary that most teachers might recognize and understand or B) the writers of the survey are themselves not as technologically proficient as I might hope. If A is true, then the writers already have a low opinion of the technological proficiency that they expect to see exhibited in their survey. If B is true, I might be a bit worried about moving our state’s educational technology leadership into the current web2.0, open source, cloud, social media, and cross-platform reality.

One last note: the survey says that I am technologically proficient. Do I get a prize? Maybe they’ll throw in a 33.6K modem or a dot-matrix printer.

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  1. Jonathan Bjork’s avatar

    I believe the answer to your question is B. Unfortunately, I have to think that we are some of the more tech-proficient in our respective districts. Don’t ya think? That’s a good and a bad feeling in my opinion. It would be nice if those “in charge” of us understood what they are truly in charge of as it would make the decision-making process a bit more stomach-able from our end.

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  2. 21stcenturychem’s avatar

    The creators of the survey certainly aren’t very technologically literate (haven’t they heard of surveymonkey?) And I think there is still a common perception that “anything on a computer” is technologically sufficient.

    By the time all schools catch on to Web 2.0, the world will be on to 3.0 or 4.0.

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  3. Chuck Creamer’s avatar

    I shudder to think what kind of PD curriculum might be conceived from that assessment!

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  4. Michael Rees’s avatar

    Question: Do you use technology in a manner that allows students to feel empowered and learn proficiency in technology?

    Answer: I do use technology in a manner that allows students to feel empowered and learn proficiency in technology.

    Not a direct quote, but you get the idea.

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