The Future of Technology Integration in Instruction Lies in Engaging and Empowering Teaching Methods Like These.
As we head into this new year I'm excited about the many instructional means and methods that educators are using technology to facilitate in 2014's classrooms (both physical and virtual!). As the 2nd decade of the 21st century rolls along, the scales are undoubtedly tilting further in favor of embracing the benefits that technology can bring to instruction, and away from frustration and resistance.
Let's explore some of the powerful instructional approaches that technology is helping to make possible, or bring to a new level, in classrooms and schools across the world.
In public and private schools of all shapes and sizes the world over, inspired teachers are working with their students using different types of devices, and various methods of access, to use teaching and learning constructs like these. All of these will see expanded use in 2014 and countless students will be engaged, delighted, inspired, and successful as a result.
1. Student Created Content
The powerful moment when a student shows you something they made for an assignment – a persuasive presentation, a digital booklet, an animated report, a video they shot – is tremendously rewarding. The things that just about anyone with a little time, patience, and access can do with the today's digital tools are pretty incredible.
Think about what students learn and experience when they create their own digital content. They often have to access and curate materials and put together a flow or layout. They have to delve into the subject that they are creating the content about and learn the application they're using to create it. When they are done and they share their work, their sense of accomplishment and purpose can be a beautiful thing to behold. And they can experience it over and over again as they share their work with others!
2. Collaborative Learning
Working collaboratively is a vital 21st century skill – most workers need to collaborate to some extent or another at points in their work lives. Our ability to collaborate via digital tools expands every day thanks to a seemingly endless array of Internet based applications that enable us to do things like edit documents as a team, communicate face-to-face no matter where we are, use interactive whiteboards that allow for simultaneous edits, and so on. Digital collaboration in learning activities is not only a fun, engaging way to learn, it opens up possibilities that haven't existed before, and prepares students for success in the evolving work place.
3. Active Learning
While everyone has their own learning style, there is no arguing that applying what you learn – doing something with it – helps to iron out the kinks and reinforce learning, no matter what your fundamental learning style is. Isn't that much of what Active Learning is about? Whatever types of active learning you pursue (Project Based, Experiential, Constructivist, Experiential, etc.), there are countless free tools available to today's student and educators via the Internet that can be used in active learning class work and assignments. Get engaged, have fun, and create something while you apply what you are learning!
4. Personal Learning Networks
While the PLN would seem better suited towards older students, the fact is that when kids engage with each other via social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat, they are using and evolving their own Personal Learning Network. The idea of taking this to a higher level by purposely curating knowledgeable experts in fields of interest should be encouraged as students work through high school and even more so throughout their higher education experience. Combining the ease of access via the Internet with the wealth of available expertise and the fundamental concept of ‘networking' makes today's PLNs rich with rewarding, interactive learning and collaborating possibilities. Teachers are benefiting more from Personal Learning Networks every day as well.
Learn More: Use Digital Tools to Create and Grow your Personal Learning Network (Video)
5. Mobile Learning
Mobile Learning has never been more ubiquitous and empowering than it is today. As the world's population embraces the power, availability, and wide spread use of the smart phone, the tablet, and emerging devices like Google Glass and other wearable technology, we have information at our fingertips (and other sensory interfaces) in ways barely imaginable in the past. Teachers and students are benefiting from this every day, and it is encouraging to know that when educators create digital content, the likelihood of it being available to a student any time, any where is very high.
6. Competency Based Learning
How cool is this? If you can prove that you know something, you can get credit for it, and move on to a higher order of learning! Adaptive learning technologies have made competency based learning one of the most exciting evolutionary steps in the learning process, and the awarding of credentials, in centuries. This concept can be applied in day to day learning using a growing array of adaptive learning tools like Moby Max. How the concept will be applied to degree completion is being vetted at a higher level by forward thinking higher education institutions like Western Governors University, while the US DOE and regional accreditors wrestle with how competency based learning will fit in with accepted institutional accreditation practices.
7. Social Learning
Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that “people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling”. This holds for digital networking as it does for traditional face-to-face social interactions. Many of today's digital learning tools and techniques incorporate a social element. While we want all students to develop the confidence to speak up in front of others, being able to ‘raise a hand' via digital communications can be a first step for the shyest of students. Additionally, while we need to continue to emphasize to our students the importance of direct human contact, it's hard to deny that the reach of Internet empowered social networking is pretty amazing. You can tap into leaders in every industry, and easily connect with countless professionals in any field. The learning and sharing opportunities are endless.
8. Flipped Teaching and Learning
This targeted use of blended learning techniques has been gaining steam in the media this year, with new stories almost every day about teachers and schools who are trying it out. Flipped instruction has so many potential benefits, it just makes sense. Hopefully educators continue to embrace it and brush off the unfortunate tendency the media has to try and paint new ideas as nothing more than ‘trends'. Flipped teaching really isn't a new idea – it's a repacking and relabeling of many existing known and accepted teaching methods and ideas, and that's a good thing.
Learn More: Mentor Mob Flipped Classroom Playlist
If these teaching and learning concepts are of interest to you, I hope you'll come and visit frequently, as these will be common topics here on the site as we learn, explore, and work our way through 2014.
In closing, a big “THANK YOU!” goes out to everyone in my Personal Learning Network – which includes the many readers of EmergingEdTech who offer feedback and questions in Comments, reach out via the Contact Page, share articles and related observations on social media, and so on. I don't think I'm the only one looking forward to an exciting year of teaching and learning with technology in 2014!
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
21st Century Technology Skills Are a Core Competency for Today’s Graduates
11 Awesome Mash Up Tools for Creating Digital Learning Content
7 Excellent Free Blended Learning Resources – Understanding the Whys and Hows of Mixed Mode Instruction