The technological revolution that has swept through the world of education in the last decade is changing the landscape of today’s classrooms. There is no avoiding it; classroom technology is part of our reality, and we have an obligation to embrace it and continue to explore the potential benefits it brings to teaching and learning. Today’s students are encouraged to develop skills of creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking, often called “4 Cs” – they are skills that will open up doors of opportunity and hopefully lead our students to achieve their aspirations. So, how can we, as teachers, cultivate this type of learning in our classrooms?
First, it is essential for teachers to see how technology, digital learning and instruction can all work together to enable students to become active, independent critical thinkers in a 21st -century learning environment. This includes a shift towards using technology as a transformative tool in the classroom rather than viewing it as a learning outcome that must be achieved.
While I continue to advocate for the use of technology in education and help guide my colleagues in doing so, I stress the importance of stepping back and being cognizant of the fact that our role as educators is shifting. Having all the information at the tip of our students’ fingers takes the spotlight off of us as teachers; we’re no longer the only expert in the room. It is important to understand just how powerful this access to information can be and identify our vision for what we are going to do with this tool and what we want to accomplish by using it. Are we using the technology for the sake of using it? Or is there a bigger, more transformative purpose or aim we want to achieve with its usage?
Before integrating classroom technology let’s ask ourselves:
- What are the learning goals of this lesson? Is the integration of technology going to hinder, augment or transform the learning?
- What is the role of the teacher? Am I using the technology to enhance my instruction or is this intended to enhance the learning experience for the students?
- What is the role of the student? Are they going to be passively consuming information through this technology, or will they have opportunity to actively engage with the learning and own it?
- Will the diverse needs of the students in my class be met through the use of this technology?
- Will the students have options or will the learning be structured and rigid? Any opportunities for critical thinking, creativity or collaboration?
Being able to articulate the “why” and “how” one chooses to use specific technologies is an integral part of transforming education and leading students to connect, explore, reflect, construct and contribute in and out of the classroom.