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.