After my previous post, some colleagues asked me what I think the best web tools are and which ones we are using at my school. I am going to answer this question in a future post when I write about tools and websites for English teachers. On the other hand, I think there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Schools or individual teachers should choose them by considering their learning objectives and expectations for the school year and manipulate them to serve their needs. In other words, learning should drive the technology rather than technology driving learning. Therefore, the choice of these tools may change from one school to the other depending on the learning objectives and expectations. Indeed, it isn’t really about the tools, it is about how you use them to enhance learning and  to combine the incredible powers of the human brain with the creative potential of the new technology.

The chart by Teachbytes below shows the difference between using technology just for the sake of using equipment and web tools and integrating it to serve specific purposes to transform and enhance learning.

We all know that our students are motivated if they are given the opportunity to choose and if their curiosity is triggered. Big questions that are interesting and difficult to answer, encourage students to offer theories instead of giving answers.  Moreover, they learn much better if they interact socially. If they are allowed to discover and experiment in flexible and creative environments where they are not afraid of making mistakes, they can construct their own understanding of new concepts by relating them to what they already know with the guidance and encouragement of their teachers. Otherwise, it is against the human nature to expect them to sit at their desks all day long, trying to learn what we have planned to teach them. Research has proved that if curiosity is not triggered, the human brain can’t retain or internalize information.

All this information matches with the 21st Century skills that our students have to master to be ready for the future. Therefore, inquiry, project, and challenge–based learning are the key learning approaches today. Provided that they are carefully planned and conducted, all these approaches align with the requirements of the 21st century education. Learners are faced with authentic situations to explore and solve problems. They are involved in social interaction via collaboration. Learning is structured around big or essential questions, which require higher order thinking skills. Students use their critical thinking skills to solve problems and innovative skills to come up with their own solutions.

SOURCE: Essential questions by Susan Oxnevad (Please hover your mouse and click on the interactive images).    

Luckily, technology provides us with many tools to adapt these approaches more easily and effectively in and outside the classroom. It also helps us to access information like how our students learn best and how we can make learning real, more enjoyable and engaging for all types of learners in the classroom. Consequently, it enables us to reconsider the old methodologies we have been using and discover, learn, unlearn and relearn the new pedagogies that increase learner engagement and autonomy. Many people think that transforming education in the 21st century is about using modern technology. However, it is mostly about our approach to learning.    

SOURCE: TEACHER FACILITATED LEARNING EXPERIENCES by Susan Oxnevad (Please hover your mouse and click on the interactive images).

As educators we already know that every child learns differently, so our job should be to give them choices to express what they know in various ways and give them the opportunity to use their imagination through innovation. Technology offers us many different tools to differentiate our instruction according to the diverse needs and interests of our learners and to personalize learning.

SOURCE: FLEXIBLE LEARNING PATHS by Susan Oxnevad (Please hover your mouse and click on the interactive images).

If the purpose of schooling is to enable the students to discover who they are and what their talents and passions are, why are students still being loaded with irrelevant information they will forget before the school year ends? Today, we need teachers who can foster curiosity and exploration and guide their students to find joy in learning and discovery through their passions and interests.  Only this type of schooling can motivate disengaged teenagers bored of traditional schooling. The graphics below illustrate how the source of information and the way we build knowledge have changed in the 21st Century:


SOURCE: Richard Wells

With all this in mind, we should see technology not only as an aide to learning  but as an important factor to transform learning, helping us create dynamic learning environments where learners become active participants in their own learning, rather than passive recipients of knowledge. This new definition of learning shouldn’t focus on getting high marks. We should care more about our students’ cognitive needs than the results they achieve at school.  We should encourage them to create and share information instead of memorizing it so that we can instill the joy and love of learning in them. They need to know how to think critically, creatively, and to evaluate multiple viewpoints. In these new learning environments enhanced by technology, the teachers are learners, too. They don’t control the learning any more, but instead, try to empower their students to take ownership of their own learning as passionate learners. This will eventually open the doors to self-directed learning by increasing learners’ involvement and responsibility for their own learning.

SOURCE: Med Kharbach Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Of course, all these changes won’t be easy but  as we often tell our students, we should all have the confidence to take risks, learn from our mistakes, try new things, and develop a discipline of self-reflection to become the change agents in our communities.

Video for teachers on becoming a change agent by Justin Tarte.

Please share how you have personally transformed education.


Today, there are many websites, tools, and resources that are readily available to us through the WWW. In order to introduce these applications to our students and implement them into our classrooms, we need to know where to find them and how to use them. As educators we already know that every child learns differently, so providing various means to give our students the opportunity to express what they know and to use their imagination through innovation has become part of 21st century teaching, which every teacher should practice.

The New Way of Learning infographic by the Adidas Group gives us hints about why and how we should transform learning:

Even if they aren’t familiar with technology and consequently don’t feel comfortable with it, each teacher should give it a try to transform teaching and learning as it is worth doing. As a first step you can start by talking to your colleagues who are teaching with technology. You will find out that their students are demonstrating a greater responsibility for their learning, they are more active in their classes than they used to be, both as leaders and peer tutors, contributing to problem-solving discussions, teaching each other and developing more collaborative learning skills. In fact, there are so many helpful guides and resources available on the internet that you will soon find out it is not as difficult as you have imagined.  


A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet is a great source for beginners to technology integration. After reading it, you may continue with Technology Integration Professional Development Guide by Edutopia.

Learning with web tools is a great opportunity for our students as they will help them tremendously in their future jobs. Even if they do not use these skills in a future job, they can use it for their own personal needs. Mobile Devices for Learning – a guide by Edutopia is a good way to start learning about web tools. After reading it, you may continue with 20 Educational Technology Tools Everybody Should Know About by Edudemic. When you feel comfortable with technology, you can visit Cybrary Man’s Web 2.0 page and A Practical Guide to the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013. You can also check my Pinterest Web Tools board for further information on Web 2.0 tools. Finally, you can find presentations, e-books, and posts on Web 2.0 tools and sites on Free Tech for Teachers by Richard Byrnes and Technology Tidbits by David Kapular.

Once you have decided to integrate technology into your classroom, there are several important points you should consider:

  • Before you start using technology, be sure that you really need to use it. After all, our main goal is not to enable our students to use technology but to develop a love of learning and self-direction so that they can ultimately become life-long learners. Therefore, we should plan lessons and activities that would get them excited about learning and encourage them to go out and learn more on their own. Otherwise, using technology for the sake of being a tech-savvy teacher will be a waste of time.  You can use the assessment sheet by Sue Lyon Jones from The EdTech Hub before you decide about whether you really need to use the tools and read the blog post about Jerry Swiatek’s tips for beginners to avoid making mistakes while integrating technology.


  • The technology you are using must be in line with the curriculum and your students’ learning needs and goals. Therefore, you need to find the best tool that will support your lesson and your students’ learning while you are blending technology into your lesson plans. You can visit Edshelf and Ideas to Inspire to be able to do that. You can also find great tips for using technology in Shelley Terrel’s Wiki, Technology 4 Kids. Some teachers may find it useful to watch the five-minute videos on web tools by visiting the Learn It In 5 Blog by Mark Barnes or the videos in Under Ten Minutes.


  • Make sure the technology you are using supports higher order thinking skills and help you develop a spirit of inquiry and problem solving. Andrew Churches from Educational Origami and Kelly Tenkely from iLearn Technology have adapted Bloom’s Taxonomy to digital technology. Their ideas will help you determine how you can use technology to enhance higher order thinking skills and create dynamic learning environments where learners take ownership of their own growth and pursue it passionately.


Revised Bloom's Taxonomy

Considering all the points above is important because the shift in education today is about learning, not about technology. All the tools mentioned above are the means to help us create more exciting, engaging, and ultimately, more effective learning for our students. As teachers in this complex world, we should continuously be learning, implementing, refining, and effectively integrating technology to enrich and extend the curriculum, to enhance and accelerate the types of learning that support the development of our students’ proficiency in the era of creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, leadership, and communication.


Digital Learning, Deeper Learning




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.

Via: Voxy Blog


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.