The Culture of Teaching Kids Differently – Engaging Students to Learn in the 21st Century
Technology change many times is focused on the latest and greatest piece of equipment—the new iPad, the Chrome Book, the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy. What we do know, is there will be quite often, the latest and greatest new piece of technology on the market every month or week. But, the focus of integrating technology into classrooms and leveraging new learning for students through technology is totally dependent on the teacher in the classroom and the culture of the building they teach in.
So, changing school culture—not the equipment used—should be the focus for our future in education. Stephanie Hamilton, an education expert from the Apple Corporation, states that, “Technology is ubiquitous and mobile and has to be about changing school culture, not equipment.” She predicts that by 2020 there will be 10 billion mobile platforms worldwide.
The reason changing the culture is so important is that we have to allow the teachers to become facilitators, not directors, in the classroom. They must guide and provide opportunities rather than be the “sage on the stage.” Students are not afraid of technology. Most of the technology has been around since they were born. They see technology as a natural part of learning, where many of us educators see it as a tool we might use, or maybe even a distraction. We have to find ways for the teacher to utilize technology in their classroom so that it’s a natural practice of learning.
Technology needs to be learning focused and user centric. The latest example is the 1:1 device phase. It’s not good enough that we just provide a technology device for the students, the learning must change and technology needs to be integrated into the everyday curriculum.
The latest Northwest AEA Superintendents' Network visited Rock Valley Schools. We saw excellent examples of integrating this technology into classrooms. One teacher in a seventh grade exploratory class used program Lego cars which students needed to program to navigate an obstacle course. The students worked in teams of two, using a laptop which then programmed the Lego car. Trial and error was rampant and students were totally focused and engaged.
A high school science class used a Moodle to pull up a website from a university, which the students then used a simulation to balance chemical equations. The students then needed to use shape software to recreate the new coefficients by drawing the molecules and completing a reflection page. These are just two examples of what’s going on when teachers fully accept and integrate technology into their classrooms.
Stephanie Hamilton from Apple, reports that, “Students want the following from schools in ascending order of importance: work with interactive technology, teachers who serve as mentors, learning that is interesting, more choice in what they are studying, and most importantly, real and relevant work. Going to schools, she quipped, should not be like getting on an air plane; sit down, face forward, strap yourself in, and turn off all of your electrical equipment.”
Seymour Pappert, MIT mathematician and artificial intelligence pioneer, states, “The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.”
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are we being intentional in our lesson planning integrating technology into every unit?
2. Are we creating with the technology devices versus digitizing lower order thinking exercises?
3. How can we use technology to increase student engagement ?