Monday, September 15, 2014
As if we needed Ryan Gosling's motivation to create a stronger education system, it's no secret that many schools in our education system today are falling behind when it comes to technology in the classroom. Antiquated techniques and outdated resources (though valuable for their designated time) fall short to the fast-paced, technologically-driven society we are living in today. The integration of Smart Boards was one of the many small steps schools have taken to improve class production and efficiency, and as we delve further into a era of social media, interactive resources such as blogs, Twitter, and other multimedia programs have created new opportunities for more efficient styles of learning both in and outside of the classroom.
The video The Networked Student shows you the ways in which students today are using interactive media sites to build connections that are integral to their education. Under the theory of "connectivism", learning exists as a social media outlet of diverse connections. Such connections are more valuable than the actual tools being used, and a stronger, more efficient learning environment is established. As the video takes you through the life of an average student, we see how interactive media sites allow the student to branch out and find new and exciting resources that provide him/her with information. Through programs such as Google Scholar and iTunes, the student's access to information exceeds far beyond the limitations of textbooks and encyclopedias, and instead provides first-hand access to validated articles, interactive classrooms, and real life experts in their field. This allows the student to create a "virtual textbook" of primary and secondary sources, and can effectively and immediately post his new information for other students to see. The teacher, then, can instruct the student on the best means to build these networks, provide guidance when the student struggles, and give the student instruction on how to effectively communicate and organize information in the technological sphere.
Just as "The Networked Student" illustrates what the student is doing with media and technology, Vision of 21st Century Teachers shows how teachers today are utilizing new sources of information, and how this benefits the student. Some examples include using blogs that allow students to post their opinions on what they are reading in class, creating Wikis to construct knowledge about new subject matter, and providing cameras for students to create multimedia projects. In doing so, the teachers are providing their students with an open space for communication, information, and expression that cannot be fully gained in a classroom. Furthermore, utilizing the global space of technology allows students to reach out to not only various scholars, but their own peers from around the world. Such connectivity is crucial to a student's development in the 21st century as we prepare them for the global community that is only becoming smaller for us today.
I have to admit I was never completely on board with the emergence of technology in the classroom. While I saw its benefits, I worried that students too dependent on technology will fail to be self-sufficient in their later years. While I still recognize this as a potential threat, I feel more at ease seeing firsthand how many aspects to technology and social media can improve the overall depth and variety of education today. To put it simply, strictly using books and articles places too many limitations on what a student can learn, and as an educator it would be my job to open various avenues of information and higher development of learning. More importantly, technology creates a sphere of education for ESL learners and provides them with a smoother transition into a new place of education, allowing them to feel more comfortable with themselves and more connected to their environment.