This week’s post poses a great question that I don’t think I’m reflecting on nearly as much as I should. “Will education as we know it change because of technology?” I’d like to think that there’s a yes and no answer to that question. Realistically speaking, the fundamentals of education might, and could possibly, remain the same. Does anyone remember the
visual that was going around several years ago that was of a classroom in the 60s and it was compared to a classroom of today? It was EXACTLY the same. Desks in rows, teacher in the front of the classroom as the focal point, the same books on each student’s desk, etc. I know that this isn’t the case for ALL classrooms. I’d like to think that these types of classrooms are in the minority, however, they should be extinct! Why is the western black rhinoceros no longer on our planet, but old school style classrooms and learning can still be seen?! But, I digress.
There have already been changes to the way we teach and how students learn because of technology. I see very, seemingly, minor change in when we teach the reading strategy of making connections. There used to be three ways to make connections when reading text: text to text, text to self, and text to world. Now, text to media is also taught when covering making connections. Media is anything that we’re reminded of dealing with what we’ve seen on television or read on the Internet.
Devices are changing the playing field. Now that I’m getting all of my thoughts out, I’d like to change my answer. Yes, education will change because of technology. Final answer. At my school, in grades 3-5, iPads are part of the necessary materials in class, much like a pencil or eraser. Students are creating and submitting interactive assignments. Long gone are the days where students are submitting your standard run of the mill research paper. These papers now include a technology piece, of the student’s choosing. A soundtrack might accompany the paper to help the reader feel an emotion while she’s reading, or the student might recreate a scene to act out to enhance the reading experience. All of this is made possible because of technology.
I push-in and help support a grade four student, who has the ability to make the worst day seem like a distant memory because of his personality. Just the other day, I wasn’t having the best day but as soon as I stepped into his classroom and he saw me, I was greeted with the biggest smile and “Ms. Spitzman! I’m so happy to see you. I was waiting and wondering when you were going to come! I wish you were with me everyday!” That’s enough to make ANYONE cheer up and love teaching all over again! His class read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and had to create a 21st century book report. If he had to write a book report like you and I had to do back in the day, it would have taken him FOR-EV-ER.
Instead, he was given the freedom and flexibility to choose what and how he wanted to create his assignment. He used Comic Life and Legos to sequence the events of the story. I know that he was more engaged in his assignment and learning because he was able to use technology to sequence the story, rather than working on a traditional book report. He has a wonderful teacher (who is also a fellow COETAILer), and she was kind enough to share this with me!
In Cathy N. Davidson’s on collaborative learning, I love when she said “[that] given the interactive nature of most of our lives in the digital age, we have the tools to harness our different forms of attention and take advantage of them.”
“Multitasking is the ideal mode of the 21st century, not just because of information overload but also because our digital age was structured without anything like a central node broadcasting one stream of information that we pay attention to at a given moment. On the Internet, everything links to everything, and all of it is available all the time.”
The grade four student DEFINITELY has attention issues. We have to take brain breaks quite frequently. However, when we are using his iPad or laptop, those breaks become less frequent than when we are writing with pencil and paper. I don’t have to refocus his attention as much, and he attends to tasks much better when he’s working on his iPad. He can go from watching a Youtube clip on George Washington, to his note-taking on Google docs, to the piece of writing that he’s working on in Book Creator, as if this is what he was born to do! It’s amazing to watch him work when he’s engaged!
In the next 5-15 years, I see myself keeping my finger on the pulse of educational technology, and just education in general. I’d like to make sure that my teaching practices are up to date, so my students are receiving the best instruction possible. Being an educator is such a privilege. We are leaving our marks on the world through the kinds of education we provide to our students, so that they can change the world and really, make it a better place. Cue feels.