Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Everything changes, nothing remains the same...

People become seemingly frustrated when they do not understand something. This sentiment usually appears when they are confronted by a threat to their personal or professional hold on life. In the education field, this is a reality that has confronted many students of the 21st century learning movement. There are still teachers that proclaim "What has changed? Why must we acknowledge things are different just because the date has changed?"

As Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 - 475 BCE) stated:
"Everything changes and nothing remains still... and you cannot step twice into the same stream."(Heraclitus, n.d.)

According to the 21stCenturyschools.com, students have changed due to the environment they are in, and the tools and toys they are confronted with. "Today's students, digital natives, were born into a media-saturated world, and their lives are immersed in technologies from cell phones, iPods, handheld gaming devices, PDA's, and laptops they take everywhere, to the computers, TV's and game consoles at home." (21st Century Schools, n.d.).  Confronted with the image of students such as this description, the content and delivery of instruction has remained the same, but the audience has changed. The students are capable of doing more, creating more, synthesizing more, and in many cases they are still being lectured to boredom.

I remember a high school classroom teacher complaining to me that 21st century learning was nothing more than technology, and gimmicks. This teacher totally misses the point, that it is not about the tools, though the tools or technology students have are filled with potential for great learning. It is about teaching style, and delivery of instruction. Sardone and Devlin-Scherer (2010) point out that "attitudes toward technology predict how one will behave with technology." Needless to say, nothing changed in her classes.

According to Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe, and Terry (2013), "given the rapid pace of technological change, it seems shortsighted to base the education of the 21st century on the tools available today!"Yesterday, we had tablets and laptops. Today, we have Google Glasses, or smart watch. How will our teachers approach learning with students in possession of all of these changing tools?

21st century learning is not about the tools, but, about creativity, innovation, and collaboration while continuing to cover the major disciplines of instruction. This is the sole argument that many have been trying to impress upon the field, today. We are no longer educating the rank and file for industrial age work. We are required to begin developing the future work force in dealing with a rapidly changing world.

Be a part of the change, or get off the bus.

21st Century Schools (n.d.). What is 21st Century education? Retrieved September 10, 2013 from http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/about.htm

Heraclitus. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learning. Journal of Teacher Learning in Digital Education, (29)4, 127-140.

Sardone, N. & Devlin-Scherer, R. (2010). Teacher candidate responses to digital games: 21st century skills development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(4), 409-425.