Wednesday, January 16, 2013

21st Century Education--What Does It Look Like?

This photo for this video goes back to classrooms at the turn of the 20th century.  For some schools, whiteboards have replaced chalkboards, but traditional instructional tools are still being used.  This is not due to lack of interest on the part of teachers, but more times than not, it is a problem of limited school budgets, and little time to be fully trained in the use of the latest technology. 

Students tend to be quite proficient in social media.  They live and breathe technology.  One could almost call the older ones experts in it:)  So what can be done to better prepare students for success in school and beyond?  Encourage the use of the tech skills that they are already proficient in and tie those skills to common core standards based lessons.  The challenge is real since the rest of the world is not standing still while Americans try to catch up.  Competition on a global scale is more competitive than 100 years ago. 

Teachers should continue to find more ways to weave in technology into classrooms.  This does not mean that teachers use it to lecture with exclusively, but rather teachers should set up tasks for students to encourage them to tap into their creativity.  Once students are excited about the projects, teachers should be there to guide and support in assisting students in meeting challenging tasks.  Team work with international members will be what today's students will be encountering in the business world after graduating from college or technical schools.  The best place to prepare them for this new world is in school with student friendly tech tools to work with such as tablets, iPads, smart phones, laptops, smart boards, etc.

Further, teachers should collaborate across disciplines to show students how the knowledge of more than one discipline is required to solve problems.  For example, if students set out to design a high school fifty years from now, they would need to know a bit about architecture, mathematics, environmental science, language communication skills (to effectively collaborate with partners in planning and in writing),  nutrition, etc.  With each decision, students must provide facts, figures, and justification for ideas. 

Preparing students for careers that don't even exist yet sounds like a challenge, but if teachers build learning environments which support and nurture the naturally inquisitive nature of students in using technology, they will be preparing students to be able to successfully enter the expanding competitive global work force with confidence:)



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