Ed Tech

Creating self-sufficient digital learners

Creating self-sufficient digital learners

As the digital world evolves, students must be ready. We need to help students know how to handle themselves whether we’re there or not. (photoXpress / dinostock)

It never fails.

In my classroom, which has a desktop computer for every student, the questions come up almost every day.

“Mr. Miller, my computer won’t turn on.”

“Mr. Miller, my mouse won’t work.”

“Mr. Miller, my computer is frozen.”

And almost every day, my instruction grinds to a halt as I troubleshoot a student’s technology issue. Hopefully, instruction doesn’t grind to a halt because the students are working on something independently. Many times, though, it does suck valuable minutes out of my class period.

And almost every time, I think, “Why didn’t they try to fix this themselves?”

This common thought of mine often makes me come back to an even bigger and more important thought.

What are my students going to do without me?

It goes much deeper than getting their glitchy keyboards to work:

  • How are they going to pick the right digital tool to do what they want to do?
  • How will they know how to handle themselves in their digital spaces?
  • How will they learn new skills as technology — and the world in general — continue to adapt?

The last thing I want is for my students to become so dependent on me that they can’t think, act and learn for themselves.

I don’t want to become a crutch.

What we need more of — and what I need more of — are self-sufficient digital learners. We need learners that:

  • can decide whether a website is fake or real.
  • know how to use media in a way that respects its authors and copyright laws.
  • can choose the right website or app from an arsenal of options at his/her disposal.
  • know where the cutting edge of technology is so they can be there.

And we need learners that know how to learn in today’s digital age, where the one constant is that it’s going to change — quickly.

I want my students to know where to go if they have computer problems, whether they’re at home or at school or out on their own.

I want my students to be able to find multiple choices for those digital tools and be able to choose the best one.

I want my students to learn how to learn. Because I don’t have all the answers and because the world is constantly changing and I want them to be ready for it.

John Dewey once said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our students of tomorrow.”

That’s never been more true than it is today.

I resolve to lean less on “Here’s how you fix your problem” and more on “How do you think you can solve that problem?”

What are my students going to do without me?

If I have it my way, they’ll thrive.

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

Matt is scheduled to present at the following conferences this school year:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

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