This is the second in a series of guest blogs by the CREATE Lab Team.
"What is Fluency?"
By Jessica Pachuta
That is the big question that we have asked a cohort of twelve diverse teachers in Allegheny County who participated in the exploratory year of the CREATE Lab’s “Fluency Project.” While we have plenty of data and research that tells us what technology fluency is and how to measure it, and can find plenty of anecdotes about it, we needed to find out how to get there. So real question veiled behind “What is Fluency?” is not a closed-ended question. It's a challenge to shift the way the think about our relationship with technology, each other, and ourselves.
The major things that we learned were about the foundations that must be laid for “fluency” to take place. If the goal of fluency is “the ability to make effective choices and use tools to advance one’s understanding and communication” as well as the "ability to manipulate, transform and move information across various media and platforms,” how do we get there?
To uncover the journey, I would first point you to the series of blogs and tweets and anecdotes that teachers participating in the project have written over 2016-2017. In there, we find evidence of a deep sense of values and the fruits of their efforts in relationship and trust building, a cultivation of student voice, and some of those victorious moments where we meet the empowered teacher and student. As well as some pretty authentic implementations of tools that served students’ learning.
As we transition from our Exploratory year, we begin looking at an elementary-level pilot project that culminates all that we learned, planned, and collaborated on. After we launched a “technology fluency” project where teachers would be trying all sorts of new things with computers and robots and maps and data, we were all quite surprised when we stopped at a pivot point and said:
“Why? To what end?” “What purpose does technology truly serve?”
In these questions, we learned that Fluency is a process that lets us go deeper. The license to hack and remix tech plus the opportunity to uncover our sense of purpose. Furthermore, the application of an “inquiry, case-making, advocacy” model means we look at content, materials, and sense-making with a new lens.
In our second year working deeply on this Fluency idea, the first cohort will work on “Spreading Roots” in their educational ecosystems with our support. At the same time, we’ll be partnering with elementary educators to apply this lens and to test out all of the ingredients that lay the foundation for a Fluency that will last beyond those victorious moments and will serve students for a lifetime.