Transforming Teaching and Learning

Today, three powerful forces are converging that are driving technology into the mainstream of learning in America. First, there is a broad recognition that the U.S. education system is not producing students who can complete globally in the 21st century; second, a new paradigm for learning is beginning to take shape that is receiving ever increasing support form educators; third, robust technologies are available that enhance the productivity of teaching and learning at a cost competitive with traditional learning resources. These forces are the impetus for the compelling need to transform K-12 education in America. Society’s very perception of what a school is and what constitutes learning is changing. Today there is growing demand for life-long learning opportunities available to anyone, anytime, anyplace. In addition to the demand for ubiquitous access learners want environments that are personalized and meet individual needs.

The integration of technology into learning supports the transformation of educational systems through its ability to integrate classroom curriculum electronically, provide immediate and interactive information to students and teachers. The new technologies and information systems enable teachers to navigate the varying culture, ethnic, language and learning needs of students.

Through the technology students can explore new concepts, experiment, conduct research, solve complex problems, collaborate with students globally and experience the world from the classroom. In addition, to basic skills, emphasis must be placed on “high performance skills” that include critical and analytical thinking, creativity, adaptability, innovation and entrepreneurship that support learning over a life time.

Students in a single classroom, building, home or community location will be able to share multiple projects, working individually or in teams. Students will develop and become proficient in the various skill sets necessary to employment, personal fulfillment, citizenship and competition in the global economy. By integrating academic, social, technical and economic skills, students will be better prepared to meet the global demands of the 21st century.

In technology based learning environments the role of the teacher changes from lecturer in a passive classroom to a coach and learning guide to student’s learning exploration. The teacher is the architect and facilitator helping students construct their own understandings and capabilities in carryout challenging tasks. This places the emphasis on the activity of the student rather that of the teacher. The teacher does provide direct instruction but focuses on providing the direction, guide to resources and participant providing feedback and direction. Learning takes place in large group instruction small teams or individually through self-paced learning. Likewise the role of the student changes from passive listener to active participant, students become more independent and takes more responsibility for their own learning. Technology provides a powerful tool of implementing this transformation.

In order to begin the transformation to a system of learning that reflects the needs of young people in the 21st century it is necessary to give up something perceived to be valuable. In this case it means giving up current perceptions about content, organization and delivery of learning, roles and responsibilities of adults and students, resources, integration of technology in learning, accountability and how resources are used to support learning. What it means is starting with a look at the current and emerging trends and directions of the 21st century and designing learning with an eye on what our young people will need to know and be able to be in future years.


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