Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

When thinking about the typical classroom, we picture a chalkboard, desks, a teacher in the middle of the classroom spelling out information and students diligently taking notes in order to regurgitate the information at some later point. This is not a classroom that is advantageous for the 21st century learner, plain and simple. In an ever evolving educational landscape, it is important to take a proactive role in trying to stay ahead of the curve. Through the integration of technology, and technology-based learning, we are giving our students the best chance to learn information that will actually still be pertinent five years from now.

In the video Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, produced by PBS LearningMedia, five unique classroom and schooling environments are chronicled to show the positive, measurable, and lasting impact that integrating technology into curriculum has for students.

As the documentary description explains, this documentary explores how exceptional instructors are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students’ curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning. Students are receptive and knowledgable about the topics that they are learning about, but even more important is their excitement for learning each day.

The two specific instruction practices that intrigued me the most was the Smithsonian Institution and Middleton. Starting with the Smithsonian Institute, I found it incredibly interesting the way the teacher promoted the integration of the museum, visual literacy, and a game to make it fun. This teacher proves that it is possible to incorporate a game with a learning objective- in fact, without the game I doubt the information would have been as well received. The second classroom that intrigued me was the Middleton classroom, because it focused of place-based education, which incorporates the community into learning. Through place-based education students are able to ask thought provoking questions to community officials that will have the best answers, and they are able to make suggestions to powerful officials that will benefit the community as a whole, as well.

As a future special education teacher, I know that it will be my job to incorporate any multi-media or teaching technique in general that will benefit my students. Thinking outside of the box will be the beginning point for my teaching, because typical instruction does not reach my students as effectively. The success of technology-based instruction and place-baed education is not limited to the student’s I will be teaching; the same way UDL benefits both individuals with and without disabilities, so do these turn-of-the-century instruction models. Students that are able to see the immediate impact of their work, through place-based education, will be more inclined to be diligent with their work because they know that it has the chance to be implemented, as well as students will be more willing to go above and beyond if able to design fun games and activities to express the depth of their knowledge on a topic.

Technology-based instruction, and its proper implementation,has become a very prominent topic in education discussions. Below are some tweets from prominent social media presences on the topic of technology-based education, and their opinion on specific aspects of the conversation:

This first tweet is from @coolcatteacher, who links an article that describes the technology services she most often recommends in emails to people that email her after viewing her videos. The specific service she is recommending an instructional-video creating software, perfect for creating how-to videos or the like. Possible implementations of this technology include online classes, and also video projects that involve outlining a step-by-step process that must be followed for the desired outcome.

More important than integrating new technology for students into one’s instruction, is the ability to be fluent in using the old technology that we take for granted. Google docs is one of these “old technologies,” but it has value far beyond its original context. As @shannonmmiller illustrates, thee are things that every teacher should know how to do when using Google Docs, stretching far past what most people know. These “hacks” as she calls them will only streamline the efficiency of one’s teaching.

Often times, when thinking about integrating technology and education, we think about services that cater to education formats almost exclusively. In a tweet @web20classroom discusses the importance of incorporating social media apps and services in the classroom, and other technologies that were not created exclusively for education. Students are familiar with these technologies and they will be able to navigate them with ease, making the connections to the actual lesson more applicable and technology error less likely.

In total, it is clear that the typical classroom of the past is advantageous for a 21st century learner. The educational landscape is one that is dynamic, and thus it is important to take a proactive role in trying to stay ahead of the curve. Through the integration of technology, and through technology-based learning and place-based learning, we are giving our students the best chance to learn information that will  be pertinent five years from now.

 

 

 

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