“In too many cases, we bolt new technologies on top of current learning tools in the standard learning environment, which effectively means we give our kids a thousand-dollar pencil.” – Alan November.
I just went on YouTube and searched 21st Century learning and was not overly surprised with what came up – plenty of examples of digital technologies. Yep, it is undeniable that educators should keep up with changes in technology and utilise these in our classrooms. But if you have iPads, allow students to bring in their smart phones or have a school T.V station are you really doing enough? Is that really what 21st Century education is all about? I think not and, apparently Alan November thinks so too!
In his book, “Who Owns the Learning?” November asserts that we can pile new technologies on top of old teaching paradigms and fail to make any significant changes and prepare students successfully for life in the ‘digital age’. We see this constantly and the technology its self, rather than the user, is often blamed. For example, many now see interactive whiteboards as rather passé. I believe this is because far too many teachers (obviously not everyone though!) have not used them as they were intended – as an interactive teaching tool. Instead they have been used to project up everything that a teacher would normally write on the board. I also know of far too many teachers who still use laptops for students to type up stories on. A thousand dollar pencil indeed!
In order to actually improve student outcomes and properly prepare students for life beyond school, I think we need to change our pedagogy as well as integrate technology successfully into the learning in our classes. November argues that technology is required to change the nature of the roles and relationships between educators and students. He gives three first steps to get started:
1. Increase the autonomy of students.
2. Publish student work to a global audience.
3. Create a community of contribution within the classroom.
In other words, not just using cool iPad apps…