Monday, December 15, 2008

Why the "Digital" Curriculum?

What are we talking about when we say the digital curriculum? Is that a metonymic word for computers?

Actually, I picked the term Digital Curriculum intentionally. It serves as both a high-powered metaphor as well as a literal description of what we are seeking.

When the world transferred from VHS to DVD, or from cassettes to CDs, it was a process of moving from analog to digital. Analog movies and music are static; they are hard to mix, manipulate, or transfer (as any teacher who had to spend 15 minutes of class cueing the tape to the right spot can attest). When they became digital, suddenly movies and music were dynamic. They were instantly accessible at all parts, and they could be transferred to different places for different purposes.

On a literal level, the digital curriculum requires that analog to digital conversion. Every piece of our curriculum will run through the digital media. Static textbooks will be shelved in favor of up-to-date RSS. Paper and pencil data collection will be removed in favor of digital data collection. Student productions and collaborations will have a digital interface to them, running through computers.

But on a deeper level, it isn't just the physical conversion... it is the pedagogical conversion. Gone are the days where knowledge is static in a textbook, where information cannot be improved upon or used, just regurgitated. In its place is the digital frame of thinking, where content and information is relevant to each student, where they have the power to manipulate it and transfer it into their own meaning, improving upon that meaning, and then sharing it with the world.

Thus... the digital curriculum...

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