Friday, 26 February 2016

Learning and Teaching in the 21st Century

I came across this video recently and thought it was one of the better ones I had seen because it could be a really useful video to show parents and whanau of our learners, who often yearn for an education similar to the one they received.  It really tells the tale of how different education needs to be in the 21st century.
It starts by questioning if the role of the teacher is obsolete.  Students can obtain facts, dates, content and formula on anything, anytime, anywhere so where does that leave the role of the teacher?

It goes on to explain that students need to be taught skills of handling limitless resources like skills for using search engines.  They need to be able to validate, (check the soundness of)  synthesise, (process and make sense of), leverage (take advantage of and use), communicate (translate into meaning for others), collaborate  (work together with others on) and problem solve with the information.
Teachers need to ask students to create their own knowledge.  This could include creating a podcast or a blog, animate, plan or record, design or programme.
There are a whole lot of other ICT skills as well.  
  • Bookmarking - so to find resources again easily
  • Paraphrasing - rewording to show understanding
  • Mashing - using a number of apps together
  • Experimenting - taking risks
  • Attributing - not stealing others work
  • Subscribing - allowing easy access to useful resources
  • Posting - exposing opinions and creativity in a safe context
  • Uploading - sharing work to the world
  • Editing - adjusting, trimming, adding value
  • Reflecting - a metacognitive activity to really show deep understanding
  • Locating - sorting through millions of resources to find the right one
  • Tagging - adding a label to enable easy searching later
  • Twittering - using the power of 140 words and mixed media wisely
  • Commenting - being positive and aiding understanding
  • Searching - finding exactly what you want online
  • Integrating - mixing one medium with another
  • Networking - finding and knowing the right people at the right time
  • Linking - making connections
Do our learners know how to do these?  And can they do them reliably, responsibly and with integrity?   Do they know how to be professional - to avoid plagiarism, pirating, and slander?  Do they honour copyright, crowdsourcing and confidentiality?
Our roles have certainly changed from being the sage on the stage. We need to be able to gather data from a whole new set of resources - facebook, twitter, RSS feeds, crowdsourcing and online surveys, be able to assess its reliability.  
Students need to be able to create and collaborate in new ways.  We need to be able to provide multiple forms of representation, engagement and expression and action using the UDL principles.

The video gives some examples of kinds of problems that could be put to students to answer in many different ways.
  • How many grains of sand on the average beach?
  • What is the current relationship between India and Pakistan?
  • Which organisation would you give money to for hunger relief?
  • Where would the best place in the earth be to live according to data?
  • What are the top rated jobs in your country and what are the common skills for those jobs?
  • Which is the best presentation programme?
  • What are the key ideas in Youtube's terms and conditions?
The video also addresses the idea of behaviour management when using devices.  This is a favourite topic of mine as I often see teachers trying to manage behaviour through removal of "privileges" of using devices.
Managing devices (laptops, phones, ipods etc) at school should be the same as managing all the other tools available in the past (books, pens, pencils and paper).  You don't remove those tools when students misbehave.  If learning is engaging, relevant and challenging, then issues of distraction and temptation rarely arise.  The devices are not there to entertain, but to engage our learners in learning.  
In summary, the video exhorts us to make changes. The responsibility lies with us, as teachers, to take risks and move into 21st Century teaching by up-skilling, collaborating and trialling and asking ourselves, what does it really mean to teach?  I do think the video will help whanau and communities understand what this means as well.

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