The video Professor Dancealot by Kari Johnson
demonstrates one very important concept
to teaching in the 21st century, or
really teaching in anytime. Students must be engaged! Simple instruction does not and cannot get the message across. Johnson shows this through the professor demonstrating the dance steps behind a podium where no one could see him and through the lack of engagement of the students. The professor's use of a Powerpoint Presentation to display information was intriguing, but the technology was wasted on the professor's lack of interaction with his students. He merely stood behind his podium, dancing to an audience that could not see a single step he was taking. The students were not allowed to move, dance, or discuss any of what was being taught; therefore, the students could not learn the material. When it came time for the final exam, the students had not danced one single step with instruction. They had to dance with their partners and their books. This is absurd! Without the interaction and engagement of actually performing the steps in class, the students were all profoundly unable to retain or apply the information they had been given. I absolutely agree with this conclusion. Students must engage in what they are learning. If they are not properly challenged and given a chance to participate, most students will stop trying to learn. Having gone to a very small highschool and having known everyone in the school, I have seen this so many times. In my experience, I have found this fact to be true every time.
Teaching in the 21st Century
In the video Teaching in the 21st Century, Kevin Roberts makes a very compelling arguments of what it means to teach in the 21st century. Since kids can learn facts from a variety of sources on the internet, Roberts states that teachers are obsolete if they merely teach facts in a classroom; therefore, teachers must become facilitators of learning skills from these sources. Roger argues this through a number of examples, including these below.
- Students can learn from blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and many other sources.
- Because these sources can be very unreliable, teachers should show their students how to use these sources to validate, synthesize, leverage, communicate, and collaborate information.
- Curriculums should no longer be focused on fact, but they should focus on teaching the students skills to carry with them through life to help solve everyday problems.
- Students should be taught to create and collaborate without pencil and paper but by harnessing the technology they have in front of them.
- Teachers should facilitate responsibility, reliability, and integrity in the students. Rogers points out that we all expect students to learn wrong behavior from their peers. Teachers must then deter this, teaching the students professionalism.
- Rogers believes we should rethink how to teach by reconsidering the types of tools we use and the types of problems we ask students to solve.
- Students should be able to use technology to their benefit, problem solving and collaborating with other students and gaining skills by sharing their ideas with others.
- Most importantly, teaching means engaging the students. Technology cannot create distractions if the students are fully engaged.
- Entertainment and engagement are not the same actions. Technology is no longer new, it is established with today's generations; therefore, using technology should not be about shiny new toys any longer. Technology is about engagement.
So what does it really mean to teach in the 21st century? I fully stand by Roberts opinions when it comes to how teaching is changing and what it will mean for us to teach in this century. As a future educator, I find that everything that Roberts has said to be highly interesting. Having been educated only in the 21st century, I have begun to see these changes. Robert's says, "Change cannot occur without conflict," and he is absolutely right. Still in my classes today, many of my teachers are opposing rather than embracing technology. They taught without technology before, so they still want to teach without technology. I myself have seen the opposition, but I have also seen the progress technology is making in schools. By the time I become an educator, I believe even more of this opposition will have subsided. We as educators in the 21st century will be expected, if not required, to teach through technology, so we must embrace it before we get behind even further! Teaching in the 21st century starts with us, the teachers who are just now learning to teach!
The Networked Student
What She Thinks:
In the video The Networked Student, the author Wendy Dexler discusses the argument that teachers are to empower students to take control of their own learning through connectivism. According to Wendy, in connectivism, "learning occurs as a part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties." This connected network is made possible by the tools of technology, but the tools are not nearly as important as the connections made possible by them. Making these connections with others will strengthen a student's own learning process. Students create their own personal learning networks consisting of blogs, scholarly articles, and other credible material in order to build a knowledge base that they can then share through a blog of their own. This brings about the question, why then would a student need a teacher at all? Teachers are there to show students how to build these networks and take advantage of their opportunities. Teachers provide guidance for their students by teaching proper communication and respect as well as information management. Teachers are there to guide children towards their futures.
For general purposes, I agree with the argument of this video. Students should be more responsible for their own learning instead of expecting it to be spoon fed to them. Connecting with others almost always reinforces what is being learned. In my drama class, we are allowed to do quizzes with our groups. My teacher admits that in today's society, we enjoy being able to confer with others about answers. Even if we know we are absolutely right, it always helps to hear another's opinion to boost our confidence. This connected network is a variation of this. Finding other students who are learning the same things we are or struggling with the same things we are is a confidence boost. Connecting with other gives us the sense that we are not alone in the learning process. Why then do we need teachers if we are going to do everything on our own? Well, we should not be doing everything on our own. Personal learning networks are for the benefit of the students, not the detriment. Some students become overwhelmed when working on projects by themselves, I myself being one. Others excel at personal projects. Personal learning networks should not be the learning goal, but the learning facilitator. The teacher should support and help her students, especially those who do not understand internet etiquette or those who need his or her guidance. Teachers should be the facilitators and guiders of learning, technology should provide the connected networks that reinforce learning.
Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts
In the video Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts by Vicki Davis, Mrs. Davis makes the considerable argument that students should be empowered to learn new things by sharing with each other and other students all over the world. Mrs. Davis uses technology to connect her students to other students across the globe. She believes that every student can learner, but certain types of children learn in certain ways. As she is in her classroom, she attempts to be a "teacherpreneur." To her, this means that in order to be an effective teacher, she customizes what happens in her classroom according to the group of students that is in her room and how they learn. When she teaches, she expects her students to able to use technology to research anything they are unclear on, such as the meaning of new words she uses. Mrs. Davis wants students to be thinkers, and in turn, she and the class experiences technology and its trends together.
I believe that Mrs. Davis is brilliant in her use of "teacherpreneuring." Each class of students is vastly different from the next, and each class needs its own way of doing things. She learns as her students learn. We have already experienced this idea as we entered into this class. Teachers are to teach and to learn. Students are to learn and to teach. If not in teaching the teacher, students should help to teach one another. I believe that empowering students to use technology to their learning advantages must have a positive effect on the classroom. Students must be thinkers! Never again should a student think or say, "teach me so I don't have to learn," as one of Dr. Strange's students said. Teachers should empower students to think for themselves and share their knowledge globally.
Who's Ahead in the Learning Race?
Take a look around at school sometime, and then take a look around a restaurant, the grocery store, or any other place with any amount of toddlers and young children in it. Who are on digital devices more these days, adults? No, it's the adults children! Who is really ahead in the learning race? According to the video Who's Ahead in the Learning Race? by Dr. John H. Strange, it is truly obvious that we are being quickly left behind by today's younger generation. On Dr. Strange's visit to Gulf Shores Elementary School, he noticed several similarities in the activities that the elementary school children were performing and the activities that he was teaching his undergraduate and graduate students. All of the kids had either a Macbook or iPad to use and were working them with skill and ease, something some of us have trouble with. The students were using programs some as Google Docs and iMovie. They were making forums, posting on blogs, and even using rubrics! These were just elementary students! Clearly they are ahead of all of the rest of us, but it's not a bad thing. If we are going to teach in the 21st century, then I am glad students are beginning to learn how to learn in the 21st century! I may be a bit behind in the learning race, since I have yet to learn some of those programs that the elementary students were using, but I hope to catch up very soon.
Flipping the Classroom
Flipping the Classroom by Ms. Munafo explains the new concept of "flipping" certain classes in schools. This was a completely new idea to me, but nonetheless fascinating. According to this video, flipping is an "innovative approach to classroom instruction." It involves students watching a video the night before the class of the lesson that is to be discusses in the class the next day. This then allows the student to come prepared to discuss the lesson instead of the teacher using class time to go over the lesson and then talk about it.
I do not exactly know if this method would be useful and effective for myself or not. This method does seem to engage the student in the classroom, but watching a video at home for homework does not seem very engaging. Most students have a hard time doing their homework as it is, but changing the homework from reading to watching a video could definitely be more appealing to students. I believe this type of teaching would definitely need some experimentation before fully flipping the class, but it does have potential. I believe it could primarily be useful in the areas of Math and Science. As a English teacher myself, I do not know if it will ever be useful. Hopefully my children will do their readings the night before and come into class prepared to discuss, but if not, I will hopefully have this in the back of my mind as a potential solution to any future problems.