Our learning Journey with technology

Recently, one of the teachers at the school sent me a text message inviting me to their classroom. Attached was a picture of a student leading the learning. Shortly after another member of staff used her phone to email me during a staff meeting for URL of a site I just mentioned. Both these events have made me reflect on our journey with the use of technology in the classroom.

A few years ago technology, especially computer technology was not used a great deal in classrooms. The school had two computers rooms. Data projectors were used by some teachers.

It was necessary to move the school to embrace technology as a tool for teaching and learning. There were many reasons for this change. These include:

  • technology engages students in the learning process,
  • technology assist teachers do their job better,
  • technology provides an avenue to overcome geographic isolation, and
  • technology provides opportunities for students to create, collaborate and communicate.

Today there is greater access to technology for staff and students. In addition to the two computer rooms there is an interactive whiteboard in every classroom, every classroom is connected to the Internet via WAN and wireless, every student from year 9 to 11 has a net-book, students from kindergarten to year 8 have access to to the net-book in their classroom, kindergarten to year 6 students have access to a class set of iPads and each teacher has a net-book.

Today students and teachers use Web 2.0 tools within the classroom these include EDMODO, Prezi, Glogster, Storybird and Wordle. Teachers have access to social media (Twitter and FaceBook) and YouTube.

Teachers have been supported in the use of technology in the classroom. Professional learning in both hardware and software has supported teachers. This year we have introduced a “technology coach” a teacher who works with teachers inside and outside the classroom assisting them integrate and reflect on technology, software and Web 2.0 tools in their teaching practice. 

I have found that social media has become an increasing important tool over the past year. Twitter allows me to connect with other educators and to form powerful learning networks. Facebook has provided another avenue to connect and communicate with our parents and local community.

 We are still on our journey. We continue to work on:

  • assisting students become 21st learners. Developing citizens that fully paricipate in our society (now and in the future). Helping them to be responsible digitial citizens.
  • Individualise learning
  • Investigate how games based learning can enhance learning.
  • providing engaging learning opportunities for all learners

 Technology by itself does not mean 21st century learning. The interaction between technology, the teacher, the student and the curriculum provide these opportunities. technology does make it easier for students to create, collaborate and communicate within and beyond the classroom.

In many ways we have only just began our journey. It is an exciting journey: this may be the most exciting time to be involved in education.

What is the purpose of Education in the 21st Century?

With the development of a National Curriculum in Australia it is timely to ask the question “What is the purpose of Education in the 21st Century?”.

Systemically the purpose of education in Australia is outlined in the Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians that outlines two goals:

  1. Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence; and
  2. All Australian students become successful learners; confident and creative individuals; and active and informed citizens   

Some may argue that the purpose of education has changed little from the time of Plato who believedthat the purpose of education was to teach “good character, citizenship and leadership”. A common theme throughout the history of public education in the United States, the UK  and Australiais the the need of public education to be free, compulsory and secular. Also, education should produce informed, useful and active citizens. What has changed is what it means to be an active, useful and informed citizens.

Educator responses to a question in YAMMER “What is the purpose of education in the 21st Century?” indicated that there still is a strong belief that a purpose of education is still to develop citizens. Whether that be sustaining community, inter-cultural understanding, socialisation, preparing students for the society in which they will live, transmission of culture in society, develop the skills that will help them with their future lives, good people or to develop respectable, thoughtful and creative citizens who participate in the wider society.

Further it was suggested that there are skill that students will require include: 

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Creative expression
  • Communication skills
  • Access, interrogate and manipualte  information. Create content
  • Understand yourself. How you learn. Your perceptual and cognitive biases.
  • Collaborate
  • Peaceably resolve conflict
  • Knowledge of a discipline
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge

Some may see these as the skill necessary for students to become active and informed citizens in the 21st Century.

How we do and how we put it into a framework are questions for another time. But however we do this we must ensure that the love of learning is kept alive. “Education is about lighting that inner fire – not filling a bottle”

What do you see as the purpose of education in the 21st Century?