Learning in the 21st Century

Multimedia brought the world into the classroom, smart technologies will take the classroom into the world.” -Steve Wheeler

My 90 year old father-in-law always seemed to be fascinated by the fact that we could call him from just about anywhere with a cell phone.  This technology was as foreign to him as a phone tethered by a coiled phone cord on the wall will be to my kindergarten students.  I mean, aren’t we all just a little surprised when we meet someone who doesn’t have cable tv, or not just a smartphone, but not even a cell phone these days? The technology treadmill just seems to keep on increasing speed and incline making it difficult for some  to keep up.

Our students, even the youngest ones, get it.  They understand the value of connectivity, media, and mobile learning.  Being restricted to 4 desktop computers in a classroom of 25-30 students is archaic at best. Less than 0.01% of the information we generate today is ever printed on paper. Information technology is becoming more and more personal and “pocketed”.   The core issue is that teachers need to be at the center of their own learning if they are to change their life-long habits and beliefs regarding the use of technology.  Perhaps we’ve looked at this backward.  Perhaps instead of trying to integrate technology, we need to redefine literacy and integrate that. Information literate people are those who have learned how to learn.  It is difficult to teach students and prepare them for an uncertain future.  Our best approach is to teach them how to teach themselves. Learners are creating their own learning spaces, blending face-to-face with virtual, and formal with social.

Do you remember your 3rd grade teacher (or any grade for that matter?)  Mine had been teaching for 30 years when I was in her class.  She taught the same thing in the same way on the same day of her 30 plus year career.  Bless her heart.  Today, no teacher should believe he/she can teach the same thing the same way.  iPads have been transformative to my teaching.  Not only is the learning mobile and individualized, it is engaging and collaborative.  Our school district is continuing to explore and expand the use of iPads in elementary, middle and high school classrooms.  A recent article in our local newspaper outlines where we are as a district at this point.   As a district, we are striving to put the learning in the students’ hands.  As educators, we have to realize that mobile learning isn’t about delivering content to mobile devices, but instead is about learning how to operate successfully in and across new and ever changing contexts.

I am more energized about my teaching now, more than ever before.  iPads have been a game changer.  I can’t imagine ever teaching without them and I’m excited about finding new ways to incorporate them.  I too, am learning on the go!

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3 thoughts on “Learning in the 21st Century

  1. You might be interested in this article from Western Australia – http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/technology-a-innovation/item/1470-ipads-open-door-for-m-learning-in-education and also this report from Radio National – http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/digital-classrooms-and-computer-coding/3969160 You should be able to download the audio for that, but if not (may be restricted outside Australia) the full transcript is also there.

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