Get on board with shifts in education…

Technology and the way Net Generation students learn is shaping the way for a new kind of teaching.  As teachers, we can’t ignore the fact that this generation of students learns much differently than we did.  That is because they were born into a world filled with technology unlike many of us who remember the days without it.   Net Generation students embrace technology and assume it will be part of their everyday life.    This is leading to much needed shifts in how best to teach students.  The time has come for us to rethink our pedagogy!

One of the shifts that need to take place is understanding and embracing the fact that teaching is conversation, not lecture.  This makes my heart happy , because I have always been one that likes an interactive classroom.  As George Siemens says, “Ideas are presented as the starting point for dialogue, not the ending point” (Siemens, 2002).  As we shift towards this type of learning we need to be teaching our students web 2.0 technologies and how to communicate using them.  As students learn to blog, use wikis, and post information on other types of platforms, they learn that rote learning is a thing of the past.  Their voice and opinions are being heard.  Depending on the restrictions placed on technology, their voice could be heard within the classroom, within the school, within the community, or even globally.  The sky’s the limit! Once students realize the magnitude of their potential audience, they tend to reflect and think more critically since now their ideas are out there for everyone to see.  This empowers students to realize that their ideas count.   Students should no longer be just sponges that take in knowledge that we disperse to them.  They need to be active participants in their learning.  I am looking forward to starting a new school year where I can begin getting my small groups of students that I work with on the computer blogging about their reading. I’m confident that what I’ve learned in this class will enable me to get this up and running! In my role as Reading Specialist, I also have the capability to share information and resources with all of our elementary teachers.  I’m hoping the future at my school is filled with more web 2.0 technologies.

Imagine a classroom where students are using laptops to respond to literature, collaborate on a project, converse with someone far away, and are recording audio and video to be added to their work.  Pretty awesome, huh?  Now reflect on how many of us learned.  I’ve written more book reports than I can count.  I’ve made numerous dioramas from shoeboxes.  I sat and listened and took notes while my teacher talked.  If we were lucky, we watched a filmstrip (now I’m dating myself) and wondered if it would fly off and have to be rewound.  Think about how classrooms are right at this moment.  Many still fit that same mold as when we were young.  Hey, if we learned that way and we turned out just fine, then isn’t it fine for them too?  I’ve heard that comment many times.  The answer is a resounding, NO, it’s not fine for them too.  We need to shift how we teach to better meet the needs of our Net Generation students, and it needs to happen now!

My views have definitely changed about technology since beginning this course.  I never knew how many web 2.0 technologies are out there!  It’s been really exciting to dabble with some of them to build my knowledge base and confidence using them.  I always strive for my instruction to be powerful and engaging, so I want to be sure that I know what I’m doing to make this technology an efficient and effective part of their instruction.  I feel comfortable beginning to make that shift into a more conversational learning environment.  This course also has me frustrated because I’m learning that my own Net Generation kids were not exposed to any technology…. Nothing… nada…. Zippo…. Other than PowerPoint and were never taught how to find credible sources on the internet.  We are truly doing a disservice to our students if we continue to teach in the stone age.  Come join me on the adventure as our teaching shifts!

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