Your community for active learning strategies
Is it hyperbolic to say digital technology is revolutionizing everything we do in education? It is changing the way we work with students in the classroom, how we track and record student progress—even how we interact with students and have students interact with each other. Technology significantly broadens the scope of resources students can access almost instantaneously. And this poses huge challenges for teachers. Remember when we researched news items on microfiche? Students also have more powerful tools to create products that display their learning: digital slide presentations, podcasts and videoblogs, and webcasts.
When teachers integrate technology into student learning, they provide students with 21st-century skills of creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving. Technology in the classroom promotes opportunities for cooperative learning and collaboration with peers and provides opportunities for multidisciplinary projects. Technology has tremendous power to help students obtain, organize, manipulate, and display information.
Of course, with all these innovations and change, teachers and students have new responsibilities to maximize the power and potential of these tools and make learning meaningful. This necessitates students and teachers learning a new form of literacy where they use different tools to mix and remix media content, collaborate at a distance (across the room, the school, the country or the world), and present their learning to multiple audiences. Effective technology tools, or “apps,” (short for applications) need to be identified and learned so that the teacher and student can apply them effectively. Like physical tools, apps don’t by themselves support innovative teaching and learning. They are just tools. When selecting apps, teachers and students need to make sure they’re using tools that truly let learning extend beyond what the students could do without them.
Digital technology is a great tool for facilitating active learning, but for some of us—even if we’ve been using technology for some time—it’s difficult to know what’s effective and how we might integrate that into our classes. In November of 2010, The New York Times asked teachers to submit video reports on how the use of technology has changed the way they teach in “Teachers’ Views on Technology in the Classroom.” The reports show the creativity of teachers and students and bring up many important issues and questions surrounding technology’s impact on education.
We’re starting a new discussion on our Forum section entitled “How Do You Use Technology in Your Classroom?” It will give teachers and administrators a chance to tell us how they use technology in their classrooms or schools and talk with other TC members on their successes, failures, problems, and questions. We also encourage you to share any ideas with us on how you integrate technology into the INTERACT simulations you use in class. We look forward to hearing from you.