Educators are constantly seeking ways to improve student learning. At the very least, educators work to improve student learning by implementing new strategies, incorporating new instructional tools, and altering previously used assessment measures. Educational leaders recognize the power technology has to transform education and and improve student learning.
While it is true that the research on the relationship between instructional technology and learning is not perfectly clear, a number of recent studies highlight the positive impacts of technology integration. A recent analysis found that “Web 2.0 tools seem to extend and deepen the educational environment when they facilitate meaningful communication …toward authentic goals” (Light and Polin, 2010). Isn’t “deeper” learning something that educators have been longing for? Is technology integration the key to making this happen? Perhaps the technological tools are not the solution in and of themselves, but the way in which educators utilize these tools to foster learning is the key. The positive effects of technology as an instructional tools are “ not necessarily attributed to the technologies per se but to how the technologies are used, and how one conceptualizes learning” (Hew and Cheung, 2013). Much like other curricular tools, instructional technology is only as effective as the teacher who implements it.
Our world has changed as a result of technological advancements. Information about any topic is quite literally in our pockets. Teacher communication with colleagues- in the room next door or thousands of miles across the ocean- is only a few clicks away. Educators can harness these revolutionary abilities to help our students learn and prepare for their futures.
The notion that education is intended to prepare students for the future is not an unfamiliar concept to educators. But with the rapid changes in technology, teachers are left to wonder what kind of future they are preparing their students for. The Partnership for 21st skills advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. Other organizations, such as the Center for 21st Century Skills, are also working closely with educational leaders to advocate for 21st Century Readiness. These organizations are have developed frameworks to guide educators in developing skills that will prepare students for this unpredictable, but exciting future that lies before them. Core subjects are essential components in a strong education, but the critical need to teach the skills that will allow our future leaders to work in a 21st century environment cannot be dismissed. While the future jobs have yet to be created, much less imagined, educators can equip students with skills that will allow our students to work in any environment. Skills such as problem-solving, collaborating, and critical thinking will be necessary in any workplace setting.
Technology maximizes learning by bridging the gaps between classroom instruction and real-world problems. It allows students to learn at their own pace, and in many cases, have more power and control over what they learn and how they learn it. Opportunities to share their learning experiences with a real audience (rather than a single teacher) are unlimited. Tools used for feedback and reflection on learning allow for more meaningful learning experiences that have real world application. Technology creates authentic parallels to future experiences.
Memorizing facts and tidbits of information is no longer as necessary at it once was, nor does it prepare students with the skills they will need in the 21st century. Combine an internet connection with a person equipped with minimal technology skills, and that list of facts can be pulled up in a matter of seconds. It is no longer about students know; it is about what they do with what they know. It is time for educators to re-think our current pedagogy as they prepare students for the future that lies ahead of them.
Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2013, 12). Use of Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 and higher education: The search for evidence-based practice. Educational Research Review, 9, 47-64. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001
How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. (2000). National Academy of Sciences.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from http://www.p21.org/
Rana Tamim Et Al 2011_what Forty Years of Research Says About the Impact of Technology on Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from http://www.scribd.com/doc/76936904/Rana-Tamim-Et-Al-2011-what-Forty-Years-of-Research-Says-About-the-Impact-of-Technology-on-Learning
Skills21: The Center for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from http://www.skills21.org/
Technology Integration Research Review. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-research-learning-outcomes?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=endslate&utm_content=video&utm_campaign=techintro