Harnessing Effective Education Technology

As Will Richardson writes, “putting technology first-simply adding a layer of expensive tools on top of the traditional curriculum-does nothing to address the new needs for modern learners.” (2013, p.10)  Changing the focus of education is necessary to allow the best learning for today’s students; the learning they need. There is no technology that will change the way a lesson is taught and received without first reforming the pedagogical lens from which the lesson was designed. Once a teacher has successfully transitioned to a student-centered approach, they can introduce the use of technology to the classroom.

Why wouldn’t we embrace this accessibility by bringing it into our nation’s classrooms?  What year are we preparing our students for, 1980?  According to Bill Ayres, “the new millennium and new conditions challenge us to start imagining an entirely new world and new approaches to production and participation.” (2012, p. 199) As educators, we need to develop ways to use this technology to reinvent teaching and learning for the digital age.

Consider that the current freshman in high school will graduate high school in 2016, college in 2020. [Technology] will permit students to not just ‘learn at their own pace,’ as it is often heard, but to learn more or less in whatever ways they prefer, as long as they are in pursuit of necessary and required goals.” (Prensky, 2010, p. 17) These students have grown up in an increasingly mobile world.  Prominent education researcher, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, writes, “Preparation for future work situations requires teaching learners to use their minds well.” (2010, p. 11) To do this effectively, educators can no longer ignore the accessibility of information provided by technology.  According to the National Education Technology Plan (2010), to successfully compete with other nations, “[the U.S.] Need(s) to develop inquisitive, creative, resourceful thinkers; effective problem solvers; groundbreaking pioneers; and visionary leaders.” (p. 27) The best way to develop theses skills is by adding the power of technology to student-centered pedagogy.

 

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21st century learning: charting your own course (round 1)

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The American education system is failing its students.  Over the past twenty years, the U.S. has declined in world education comparisons.  Whether it is the American system declining, or the rest of the world catching up is not for debate.  One thing is clear: education in America needs change.  Students want change.

 

Learners sitting in classrooms across the U.S. are bored.  They are tired of hearing the teacher “preach” from their soapbox while they sit passively waiting for instruction to be done to them.   Teachers continue to implement strategies designed for students to succeed in twentieth century schoolhouses when they need to develop twenty-first century skills.  As Dewey states, “if we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”  If we continue to implement teacher-centered strategies, we will continue to fail our students, causing them to be ill-prepared for the world that awaits them upon graduation.  I argue that educators need to shift to a 21st century learning model, which achieves three main goals:

  1. Teachers need to transition to lesson facilitators or guides that implement student-centered pedagogy to foster the growth of students’ 21st century learning skills. 

  2. Teachers and learners must harness the available mobile technology.

  3. Schools must redesign the learning space to more efficiently allow for this pedagogical approach.

 

The skills which educators and businesses deem most important in the 21st century are creativity, collaboration and innovation, critical thinking and communication.  These skills need to be at the forefront of our nation’s curriculum and school redesign so that teachers, schools, districts and the nation alike are in line with the goal of best preparing our learners for success in jobs that we cannot foresee.