After completing two years of graduate work first in e-Learning and now in Transforming Teaching and Learning in a Knowledge Society, I have realized that my teaching has dramatically changed. The purpose of graduate work is for people to question, to explore and to reflect on current methodologies. With the vast changes in technology, teaching and learning methodologies have become more individualized leading to the need for 21st Century skill development, which requires educators to re-think teaching styles, curriculum design, teacher-student interactions, and more. What exactly does this entail? How can I implement what I have learned from the last two years into my teaching? I have come to some understanding of how I can reflect my learning, but I am still discovering the best ways to use technology to reinforce 21st Century developments.
21st Century skills focus on developing competencies in technology, collaboration, problem solving, and networking, etc. that “…build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom…” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 19). It also includes re-examining the notion of traditional literacies. The New Media Consortium (2005) defines new literacies as “…the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual, and digital literacy overlap…” (p. 8). Literacy must also include traditional literacies of reading and writing as well as media literacy of developing social skills if students are to work collaboratively in a global, interconnected society (Jenkins, 2006). Educators as well as students need to acquire these proficiencies to compete in the digital age. Educators need to now design curriculum that seamlessly integrates technology and fosters interdisciplinary inquiry that requires a new way of thinking about teaching and that incorporates new ideas about literacy into curriculum. This can occur through the development of technological pedagogical content knowledge or TPACK.
In addition to TPACK, “learning by design” where teachers become designers of technology and learn along side their students allows for authentic learning opportunities. This type of design encourages learners to develop the critical thinking skills needed to function in a complex society where thinking involves more than just memorizing information. As Simon, 1996 states, “…knowledge building has shifted from “knowing” or the ability to remember details to being able to develop the intellectual tools to use knowledge. This requires educators and schools to restructure so that students learn with understanding of content rather than through the repetition of information. In this digital age, technology has given learners heightened access to information, ideas and people where knowledge can be shared using Web 2.0 tools. Educators need to keep up-to-date with this knowledge and be digitally resilient when learning to implement new technologies into the classroom.
Such strategic usage of technology is supported by connectivism and social constructivism since educators design curriculum to allow students to solve authentic, real-world problems. These learning theories can seem disorganized and time intensive but “…through this arbitrary learning, understanding and knowledge is obtained (Siemens, 2009). This does not imply that students will naturally learn just because they are connected to other students or educators. Therefore, Selwyn (2010) argues that there needs to be a more structured and scientist approach to using technology in classrooms, which justifies the need for TPACK.
During the last two years, I have discovered that I support the constructivist ideology more than I initially realized. I design lessons using project-based outcomes, and I allow my students opportunities to discover content in a way that fits their learning style. This type of teaching focuses on student-led exercises instead of teacher controlled learning. I have learned how to use TPACK to develop competencies in technology, collaboration, problem solving, networking, and I use new definitions of literacy to advance my awareness and understanding of the skills needed for the future. I can now use technology to further my teaching goals so that technology doesn’t take over good teaching practices and pedagogy. Furthermore, I have a new appreciation for the importance being digitally literate since it involves accessing and interpreting the relevance of information. The last two years have changed my teaching ideologies as well as enhanced my ability to lead my students. I look forward to developing more relevant and engaging lessons using technology that sparks authentic learning.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st Century. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF
New Media Consortium (2005). A Global Imperative: The Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit.
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: Notes towards the critical study of educational technology, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65-73.
Siemens, G. (2009). Chaos, and emergence. Retrieved from http://docs.google.com/View?docid=anw8wkk6fjc_15cfmrctf8
Simon, H.A. (1996). Observations on the Sciences of Science Learning. Paper prepared for the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning for the Sciences of Science Learning: An Interdisciplinary Discussion. Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University.