Be the Change You Want to See!

After reading the article, “Shaping Tech for the Classroom – 21st-century schools need 21st-century technology” by Marc Prensky, the first thing that crossed my mind was that this article was published in 2005, and ten years later we’re still asking the same questions. So how far have we really come in our teaching methodologies and how much has learning changed? Are we still only dabbling?/ Doing old things in old ways? (WHY?) Old things in new ways? (hmm…) Or have we finally managed to start doing new things in new ways? Why are we still hindered by the technological and social factor? Why are most teachers still ‘digital immigrants’ (although some have converted to ‘digital citizens’)? Why do we still hold ourselves back from adopting and adapting technology from the ‘digital natives’ – the students? Why are schools so slow to adapt to the digital movement when almost every other professional organization has readily adopted it? Why are some schools/ teachers still doing things the old way? (It is specially surprising because ‘schools’ are the places where the ‘learning’ starts). These are some questions that are constantly running through my mind. Joining CoETaIL has provided me with a platform where I can collaborate with others to inquire into them.

Old or New?

For the last couple of years I have been meticulously using Google Docs, making various folders so that I can later go back and retrieve things easily. This is definitely a step up for me because when I look at my desk, it is a mess (granted it is an organised mess since I have no problem finding things). Of course since I hate collecting paper, using Google Docs is an absolute blessing and pleasure. Something that I realized for myself was that I have started using technology more with the advent of iPads and smartphones. Where before I used to procrastinate in using technology, I now  use apps for saving things on my iPad. Where I have needed to fill out forms I have used CudaSign, where you can even put in your signature using your finger or a stylus on the screen. I use Paper53 regularly, specially during meetings, conferences or simply whenever I want to take notes. On the iPad I have found Adobe Acrobat and TinyPDF very useful since I can annotate, highlight, add texts and drawings to my documents without any fuss. I am also using cloud-based storage like I’m sure a lot of my fellow CoETaILers and colleagues. This year I am using Seesaw to maintain e-portfolios for my students. Of course when you’re thinking of all these other platforms how can you leave out Pinterest?! Pinterest is a great example of collaboration. Even when you find some great ideas which otherwise would not work with the age-group you’re working with, you can always tweak it according to your requirements. I have regularly started using Twitter (I do not have a class Twitter account yet but I am going to make one soon) and LinkedIn not just for networking but learning, collaboration and professional development purposes (although to be honest, I’m still ‘lurking’). I do realize that all this is still just ‘modifying’, but I feel it is a step in the right direction.

In my last post, I had said that we should educate our students to create a community of GEEKS who are passionate and driven by their interests and talents. So how do we do that? Yes it is an uncomfortable and at times overwhelming journey but if we keep in mind that we as teachers are no longer in full control of the ‘learning’ process, rather we are the ‘facilitators’ along with our students’ learning. Like Marc Prensky said in his article we should not just adopt technology but adapt it until we reach the point where the next century doesn’t catch us by surprise.  Our classrooms should be spaces for collaborative and creative learning without losing the most important voices; those of the students’!

While reading another article Educating for Change by Jonathan Lash, the four approaches given by him really stress the fact about student-led learning. We have to make them Inquirers, Thinkers, Knowledgeable, Caring, Open-minded, Balanced, Risk-Takers, Principled, Communicators and Reflective. Only then can we have life-long learners! We as teachers need to have a growth mindset before we plant the seeds in our students. I love using technology and as a parent I am continuously learning things from my kids, be it through games, apps or websites. We as adults have a responsibility to collaborate and ensure that today’s youth understand what their ‘learning goals’ are. Ultimately, technology is a ‘tool’ like many others. We have to handle it in such a way that we get our students ready for their future. 

 

 

 

Published by Rahila Mukaddam

A daughter, sister, wife, mom, teacher and a LEARNER!

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4 Comments

  1. Rahila,

    I loved your post this week because I think we are all in that same questioning and confused boat, which is why we joined COETAIL. I use many of the same technologies as you, usually a modifier, sometimes a lurker (Twitter is my weakness, too). I think it would be interesting to try to make a list of all the technologies we use in our daily life to promote our own efficiency and success and then ask our students to do the same. Are they using technology mostly to connect, to consume, to learn or something else entirely? My gut says that they’re usually using it to connect and consume – that the learning part doesn’t come until later or unless they are forced to. But in forcing them to learn using technologies are we pushing them away? Just a thought on this Sunday evening! Thanks again for sharing. It felt like I was having a conversation with someone who just “gets” what I’ve been feeling/thinking, too.

    Lindsey

    1. Lindsey,
      Thanks a lot for your thoughts! I’m glad this felt like a conversation to you.
      It is quite interesting that you mentioned finding out what our students learn from the various technologies they use? Before the summer, when I was teaching Grade 4, I asked my students the same question regarding the ‘apps’they use (our Unit of Inquiry was How We Express Ourselves). With the help of some probing and clarifying questions, they were able to share what they ‘learned’ from these apps. I guess the same can be done regarding technology as well.
      Regarding your thought on forcing them to use technology, are we pushing them away? I guess it would depend on ‘how’ they are taught to use it. While teaching with the Grade 2 team, our Unit of Inquiry was ‘Sharing the Planet’. The students were asked to create a persuasive media piece about conserving water. (This was the provocation given to the students: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VOWg_EaXfwU) Using iMovie, the students worked in small groups and collaborated to create their persuasive media piece.
      So yeah I think it is doable. Cheers! Happy Sunday!

  2. Rahila, I’ve been thinking the same things. Why hasn’t education adapted or adopted new technologies more quickly? One reason might very well be the fact that many schools themselves (I’m talking about the bricks and mortar; the physical building) have not changed either. School buildings have many physical attributes that make it difficult to divorce ourselves from what we’ve always done and “do new things in new ways”. I just read this article on this new school that opened in Finland (https://brightside.me/article/the-school-of-the-future-has-opened-in-finland-13755/)and it’s quite remarkable. They mention many concepts that make their learning different. For instance, “the pupils are allowed to move around the classroom on their miniature office chairs”, and “laptop computers, in fact, are this school’s version of the school blackboard. Most of the children’s lessons are built around the concept of team projects.” Additionally, the “experts from VERSTAS Architects made sure they moved well away from the typical dour design for a public school which we all can’t stand.” The physical building itself doesn’t look like a school, “instead, it’s more a like modern art museum — wonderfully light and airy.” In order for education practices to change building from the ground up would be of great benefit. Perhaps, we need to take over old, dilapidated buildings and build something new; something that is designed to have technology intertwined with the curriculum and embodies what has been learned through current educational research. The biggest hurdle to overcome is monetary. However, if we really want to prepare our students with the quality of education that will enable them to succeed in the future, we’ll have to invest in it… just like Finland has done.

    1. Your comment on the building structures itself is very interesting. I remember one of the courses in my teaching certificate was Advance Child and Adult Development. For our Final exam we had to evaluate the school building and environment keeping all the different development theories in mind. With the advancement in various fields/areas it is a big wonder why schools are still being built the ‘old way’. Finland and Sweden are setting examples in a big way. It remains to be seen ‘when’ others follow and start educating in ‘new ways’. I don’t really feel monetarily it is a huge hurdle, I feel MINDSET is the biggest hurdle. I guess with networking and collaboration, this has somewhat become possible. Why not be the change instead of waiting for the change? We can do it!!! Let’s make the difference!

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