There is so much to see and talk about here at the Microsoft booth (#1354) at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference. Outside of the whiz-bang cool demos and Worldwide Telescope Planetarium in the booth, I want to make sure teachers and technology specialists know about some new curriculum and educator resource kits we are making available today.
As students increasingly look to the Web for information, critical thinking has become an important 21st century skill, for everyone. The pervasiveness of using search in the classroom in terms of how kids use computers to do research requires them to be more critical in how they consume information, and they need the skills to support them to do that. We can’t assume they just learn those skills that they previously relied on librarians or their English teachers to help them with now that they are sitting in front of a search engine and trying to do this on their own. So, we set out to build a curriculum and assets to support teachers.
Our new Critical Thinking e-book is a primer on the subject and an all-encompassing resource guide for teachers to find assets to help define critical thinking and what it looks like in the classroom. It provides resources and pointers across the Web in one central place. The e-book is meant to lay the groundwork for the comprehensive Critical Thinking Curriculum we co-developed with ISTE faculty member Chris O’Neal with the goal of helping students better understand four key areas.
1. The mechanics of search – how you find things, how to develop smart queries, and then understand their queries.
2. Validity and reliability – how do you assess what you are reading is true, who’s the author and are they legitimate, can you find another source to back that up. How do you assess the reliability in the and how do you detect bias in content.
3. Plagiarism and citing resources – Once content is found how do you use it. With the copy and paste mentality that a lot of kids have, how do you teach them not to plagiarize and cite sources properly.
4. Civil discourse – How to practice net etiquette and practice civil discourse on the web and be respectful of others and be safe online.
Check out the new curriculum and tell us what you think. We are also working with ISTE to support the Critical Thinking Discussion Group on their community Ning site. Howard Rheingold is moderating the community for us and there is a Critical Thinking Wiki space to add your contributions and insight.
As a company, Microsoft is committed to making the Internet safe, and we believe we have a responsibility to provide tools and training needed to address Internet safety for children. Be sure to check out our other online safety materials for teachers, as well as our digital citizenship curriculum.
Of course, Bing is our search provider of choice and it provides some great assets for searching safely. Visual search has really improved how we find and sort data in the classroom and Bing Translator. There are so many cool tools for educators to create dynamic content and keep students engaged with learning including the ability to go on virtual field trips with Bing Maps and Photosynth, Twitter and Worldwide Telescope integration. You can learn about all the applications in our new Bing teacher resource guide.
Finally, with the launch of Office 2010 and Office Web Apps, today, we also announced the availability of the Microsoft Office Specialist 2010 training and certification program. By earning a Microsoft Office certification credential, you can prove your expertise in using the latest Microsoft Office programs…this is great for teachers AND their students Certification can help differentiate those in today’s competitive job market and broaden academic opportunities by displaying advanced skills.
Again, come by the booth, say hi and plan to attend one of our hands-on learning sessions or parties. Our schedule is posted here: http://www.microsoft.com/education/events/ISTE2010/default.mspx.