During the last decades technology has caused a lot of changes in our lives socially, politically and economically. What about education? Has education changed right along with the demands of the society?Today, many businesses require workers that can work in small, collaborative groups, which means we should use project-based learning in the classroom that allows students to work in small groups and to apply the academic content they are learning to real life situations. They want us to educate students who can be collaborators, thinkers, and innovators. However, in many classrooms, you can still see students sitting isolated in rows, listening to their teachers lecturing at the board all day.
We all know that we need to get away from teacher-led classrooms and create classrooms that are learner centered to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world and we have a great tool to be able to do that: technology. We all agree that we have to do everything to empower our students for their future. Then, why don’t we integrate it in education since we have the means to make a change in learning so that our students can create, communicate, connect and collaborate to be contributing citizens to their future!
In the video below, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D, discusses his views on the importance of technology in learning and the need to revolutionize education to give kids the skills they need to compete in an increasingly interconnected and digital world.
Teaching with technology does not mean uploading lessons on tablets and giving them to students to use. It has two other important dimensions. Bringing technology to our classrooms will help our students become digitally savvy by using the web 2.0 tools that will enhance their learning and creativity. If we give our students the opportunity to use these tools during the learning process, we will see the very many ways they will help us create students who can think critically, problem solve, and work collaboratively. Today, most jobs require the use of technology, which is another reason why teachers should give students experience working with technology through group projects and classroom assignments to be able to prepare them for the future. We should also consider the fact that we are preparing many of our students for jobs that do not exist yet.
The second important dimension is related to social networking, which has an incredible impact on learning. Students have the capability of learning from each other through the use of social sites, with the supervision and support of their teachers. By enabling them to connect with people around the globe, we will be opening their minds to perspectives and experiences that go far beyond the four walls of the classroom.
As a further step, we can also publish student work for a global audience and have them teach others what they have learned by presenting or sharing their work online. This will help students think about how they can give back to the broader learning community and how this can help shape their future. It will also give the students the opportunity to be assessed by a global audience. They will eventually become self-directed learners through the guidance of their skillful teachers who know when, where and how to use technology to enable this. Therefore, instead of banning the use of many technological devices in the classrooms, school administrations should encourage and train teachers to use them. Please watch the video below showing how one principal made a change in his school and went from being anti-social media to being known as ‘Mr. Twitter’ by his students.
Integrating technology in education has another important dimension from the teachers’ perspective: Networking between schools both nationally and internationally, where educators and administrators can work collaboratively and share educational resources and practices. The concept of Personal Learning Environments (PLE) has become important as teachers and administrators all around the globe can exchange ideas, and share resources with the spread of technology and social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Diigo and many others. Today, educators who have never met before have become connected and Personal Learning Networks (PLN) have a significant role in professional development. They create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge with people they don’t necessarily know. Connected Principals blog is a good example of 21st century collaboration among principals.
We often discuss how teachers find teaching with technology in the classroom, what is difficult and what is easy for them when confronted with tech tools. It also might be worth looking at how our students, digital natives – people very much at home with these technologies – think about education and what is important for them in the digital age. The infographic by MacMillan Education below shows how students go beyond traditional forms of education and how we can apply mobile learning into everyday teaching.
Does this mean that technology is the only solution to the problems in education? Of course not! There is no substitute for a skillful teacher in the classroom who effectively plans instruction according to the needs of each learner to actively engage and involve them in the learning process, creating a learning environment allowing the students to communicate and collaborate with others effectively and to be innovative. Technology is a tool that needs to be coupled with effective teaching from educators to enhance the learning process for students. Therefore, we need highly skilled teachers that can creatively use technology in the classroom to create a meaningful 21st century learning environment for students.
I strongly believe that, if used appropriately and meaningfully and combined with effective teaching strategies, digital technology helps learning to be active, engaging, and fun. Therefore, we should all be the facilitators of these opportunities so that our students can learn in a safe and meaningful way and can become connected learners just like us. If we do that, students will not only contribute to their future, but define and lead it as well. In this amazing, rapidly changing era where we can enhance and accelerate learning by integrating technology in education, the schools that understand the importance of education technology and provide their staff and students with training and access to digital learning tools will certainly have a distinct advantage over the others who ban or disregard them.
Credits to Crissy Venosdale
What do you think about teaching with technology and its role in enhancing learning?
How do you manage your PLN? Please let me know.