In today’s tech-obsessed climate, we share almost everything online – even pictures of our food! We let everyone know where we spend our weekends, when we check into restaurants, where we’re holidaying, who we’re having coffee with, even who we’re engaged to marry! We’ve given an online dimension to almost every aspect of our lives. The internet now does the same for teaching and learning and that makes this one the most exciting times for educationists and students around the globe.
Today the world is celebrating #DigitalLearningDay and while it’s easy for those standing on the sidelines to point out the shortcomings of using educational technologies, not many are so eager to find and apply a solutions to make learning more robust and enjoyable. Many educators fear that the development of social media and educational technology will have a negative impact on the education of young people. But at one point in time, people were afraid that the emails and laptops would stop people from being able to handwrite, which hasn’t happened yet and we all know how we’ve integrated e-mails into our daily lives.
Don’t get me wrong, traditional education is important and I am fully aware of and understand its significance. Still, it has many shortcomings and may not be ideal for students in the 21st century. As a teacher, I’ve tried to take what’s best in my classroom (student discussions and collaborations) and bring it to the online space, where all of my students, regardless of their academic standing or anything else, can exchange knowledge and skills. In case you weren’t already aware I have an educational blog as well and I’d like for you to see how the students are using the internet and technology so responsibly to learn their course content. Here are a few examples I’m happy to show off in honour of World Digital Learning Day.
Blog: ‘My Reassigned Classroom’ provides students with an informal online learning environment to share ideas, discuss subject matter and interpret content. A few months ago my grade 10 literature class read a Chinua Achebe story that made them question the ideas of arranged marriages, romantic love and age-old religious traditions. Soon after the lesson I posted a question on the blog and was amazed by the responses of the students. I think we had a better discussion online than we did while we were actually reading the text! (Click the hyperlink below)
Voicethread: provides a wonderful opportunity for student self-expression and creativity but more than anything, I find that it is a wonderful tool for differentiation allowing students to comment using video, voice or text responses whichever they are most comfortable with. Have a look at this summer assignment on poetry that brought out some wonderful responses from the children.
(This is a hyperlink – click the title to open the page) Stopping By Woods
TestMoz: Children today are overburdened with assignments and tests. Using online test generators like TestMoz makes it fun and engaging for students to participate in summative assessments and collaborative quizzes. These tools also help teachers to collect data and other statistical information that is crucial to their own planning and progress.
Twitter: Is already the most widely used social media site today. It is now being used as a tool to encourage discussion, collaboration and easy access to the teacher when in doubt.
While these are just a few examples of how I am using EdTech it would be prudent to mention that following a Web 2.0 tools workshop conducted last year, teachers in my school are currently using a wide-range of educational technology. In addition to these they employ the use of wikis, Edmodo, YouTube Time Machine, Class Blogs, Facebook, Evernote, Prezi, Glogster etc.
The main aim here is not technology for technology’s sake. It remains our consistent endeavor to provide students with ample opportunity to hone 21st century skills such as working online, collaboration, independent research etc.
Today we don’t shy away from technology; we acknowledge the depth and breadth of its influence and embrace it for its powerful impact on teaching and learning. We are currently setting the stage to introduce digital storytelling and the use of augmented reality in our teaching-learning. (click on hyperlink to open)
These are exciting times for both the students as well as me as a teacher.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. EdTech is no longer an option for schools and educationists. It is a 21st century requirement. Whatever we do, it’s unlikely that the students won’t use the new technologies they’re discovering every day. Perhaps at this point it’s time to stop the conjecture and start learning how to keep up with them!