How can teachers become the workers or facilitators of knowledge development rather than merely remain as sources and transmitters of information? How can students be supported in knowledge growth that expands individual knowledge through meaningful application within the confines of regular coursework?
While the wider uses of technology have increased student awareness of what is possible, within teaching and learning technology use often remains quite stagnant and out of date based on notions of what good teaching looks like and how standards must drive the process rather than the process itself. This is most clearly seen in current course delivery software platforms, which remain supportive of teacher-driven instructional design and content production and delivery. But a tension now exists between the potential for individual customization that threatens the very essence of conventional wisdom in course design and delivery.
Students can have a range of physical, cognitive, sensory, and learning disabilities that affect their entire lives. Any of these might pose unique academic challenges, particularly when learning mathematics. The good news is that technology is removing barriers for the education of students with disabilities in regular classrooms. Unfortunately, not all software is based on principles of universal design.
The lightweight, mobile nature of podcasting has the potential of moving education beyond familiar constraints of coursework and promoting a level of networking and input never seen before. But challenges still exist. Can more be achieved with podcasting that would heighten student engagement and maximize knowledge building in instructional contexts? Can we move beyond the obvious in their use?
There has been a lot of recent debate on the benefits of social networking tools and software in education. While there are good points on either side of the debate, there remains the essential difference in theoretical positioning. Most conventional educational environments are "Objectivist" in nature and highly structured in terms of students progress and choice. Social networking essentially requires a less controlled, user-generated environment which challenges conventional views of the effective "management" of teaching and learning. Therefore, can social networking both as an instructional concept and user skill be integrated into the conventional approaches to teaching and learning? Do the skills developed within a social networking environment have value in the more conventional environments of learning?
"21st Century Learning" is currently the hottest catchphrase in education, but what it means has yet to be fully determined. Technology is a part of students' everyday lives, and substantial advances in technology have profoundly affected the way they learn. As a result, educators are working hard to meet the ever-evolving needs of 21st century learners. Translating the ongoing technological revolution into a learning experience is a fundamental part of that challenge.
Over the last decade or so, numerous articles have appeared that conflate the ideas of a virtual science lab and a simulated science lab. For example, the College Board, in its guidelines, says, "A virtual lab is an interactive experience during which students observe and manipulate computer-generated objects, data, or phenomena in order to fulfill the learning objectives of a laboratory experience."
- By Harrison Keller
As technology continues to change and affect how students think and process information, instructors must realize that there is an opportunity now to capture and assess in ways not formerly possible. Research continues to enforce the importance of learning as a process, student engagement, and learning outcomes in the process of learning. Technology does not change this reality, but it can provide new ways to evaluate learning.
Cognitive psychologists have told us for some time that people process information differently and that meditative and transmittive technologies have affected thinking and perception, which in turn has affected learning. Therefore, instructors have had to become instructional designers conscious of how technology works and what it can offer to the teaching and learning process. Current mobile technology challenges that design even further as it demands a totally different approach to instructional design and also teaching methodology. It requires a fluidity never before seen and new skills from both teacher and student. In fact, I would argue that while we focus on the skills needed for students in the 21st century, we must discuss more and learn more about the skills required of teachers in the 21st century.
We are at a crossroads in educating our youth. Advancements in technology, principally Web 2.0, social software, and digital tools, have challenged what it means to be educated and how we proceed to educate our youth in a culture where innovation and creativity, lifelong learning, personalization, and knowledge from and with the collective vie for a rightful place.
- By Patricia Deubel