Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The role of technology in the 21st Century

Technology, per se, is not the point of education, heck, a pencil is a type of technology. Ideally we want to utilize and maximize the use of technological tools to enhance student learning. Since our students are typically quite comfortable in the use of technology we want them to have that access in our classrooms. The big push for technology is really in the paradigm surrounding the "changing of the guard" from 20th Century teachers who are, by in large, digital "aliens" (tech is from another world to them) or digital "immigrants" (tech is a second language - at whatever level). Like students, teachers trained in the 21st Century are clearly digital "natives" - this is their natural state. As we travel deeper into the 21st Century and replace our digital aliens and immigrants with digital natives as teachers, the issue of technology use in instruction and the classroom will become ubiquitous.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's time!

It's time for us to come to grips with the fact that the issues of compliance to method and content is not ever going to truly make our educational system the best in the world. Technology provides us our hard drives for memory, we don't need to memorize. Our focus must be on helping our students learn how to access appropriate information, how to use that information, typically within groups for problem-solving.
Our patterns are stuck in 19th Century methods and structures (why do we still only have +/- 180 days of school?). Classrooms still look the same as when my mother was in school, except the boards are more likely white than black. Classrooms are still homogenous to age, when most children learn better from cross-age groupings. That might have been one thing that we used to do better - multi-age (one room schools) classrooms of students.
And, certainly, here in the early 21st Century, technology can provide amazingly powerful learning tools. Notice I didn't say "teaching" tools. Schools must become a whole lot more about student learning. And, teaching has no automatic connection to what childRen learn. 21st Century teaching must focus on using both the tools and methods that provide for student learning. Which brings me back to the need for us to stop the insane attempt at forcing teacher compliance to method and content - all students DON'T LEARN THE SAME WAY AT THE SAME TIME OR UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS.