Do you seriously want to keep pens and paper?


Image: Information Literacy

I have been using computers with students since the 90s. Technology in class is over 20 years old. It’s not new. What is new is the ubiquitous access to technology now and the number of devices which can be utilised to enhance teaching, learning , skills, competency development and thinking. I am not chipping this out on stone with my chisel, nor am I dipping my pen into the ink pot, gazing out the window and engaging in some Byronesque activity. I am clattering on my keyboard. I am pausing to think occasionally and I have all my resources at hand on the tabs in my browser. has a very good article on the impact of technology in the classroom. We are in the 21st century and the world  has changed. It should not come as a surprise we have to adjust our thinking and rethinking. Within the next 10 years the UK will abandon pen and paper exams. Can’t come soon enough in my opinion. Our students are brought up on technology and have been for nearly 30  years. Time to move on and stop disadvantaging them. There is an article here which looks at electronic reading but if you look at the comments you can see that the article is based on faulty thinking. I use pdfs on a regular basis to get information. I can navigate them quickly and I retain the information. People are held up with electronic reading if they do not know how to navigate the device or software. It is not electronic texts which are the problem. I was amused , though, that this article was actually written as a very extensive electronic text. The irony did not escape me nor the fact it is actually a very good article to broach thoughts about electronic reading. It is far handier to carry texts on a device than several hefty tomes. If you search for literacy apps you will find links like this one where you can find all sorts of apps to develop literacy. The market is moving quite quickly now. There are also apps for creating books. Rather than go back to the familiar pen and paper, after 20 years of technology in schools it is probably better to look at those who have mastered this and who can articulate it. If you don’t know, you don’t know, but you do have to recognise there is a way forward and like anything else you have to learn it step by step. This is why teaching and learning are critical competencies for the 21st Century. No one can know everything and we all have to share, give feedback and then use our own personal skills to move it on. Reading Rockets has a really good, practical, real life illustration of how digital literacies work in a classroom. When it comes to testing those language literacies then some education regions use online testing where you can test the literacies as the students move through the online assessment. You can also use text editors which do not give the spellcheck and grammar support of software such as Word and it would be a great way to recycle old, text based computers which have none of the whiz bang software and support of their cutting edge counterparts!


2 Responses

  1. Cathy- a very thoughtful post and is of extreme value. It amazes me how some teachers stick to the old. Is it nostalgia? Don’t they feel embarrassed that their students might excel over them? Technology like you said is changing fast and we can hardly collect our breath. Still stick to the pen and paper? Well, same fate for those who decided to stick to the typewriter.


    • Hadn’t even mentioned typewriters and electronic word processors! You have to be able to think in a technology way and realise it’s the same as a pen/paper/typewriter/word processor but there are so many more literacies which can be developed and so many different ways now to synthesise and share ideas. It is no longer a one size fits all. Part of what you do as a teacher is to get students out of their technology rut too! I really liked your comment and glad you have mastered the touch screen!! I wish I could say the same. I’ll just keep practising.


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