Classrooms in the 21st century should look vastly different than their 20th century counterparts as teachers now have a difficult task to face. They must prepare students for careers that do not even exist as future technologies create new industries and occupations. Giving students the ability to communicate, collaborate, create and critically think (the 4C’s) are crucial skills students must leverage in order compete in tomorrow’s workforce.
When teachers implement a blended learning approach of technology alongside sound teaching methodologies, students develop the tools which allow them to make the leap to future success. Blended learning environments not only expose students to the 4C’s but also boost the classroom’s engagement when preparing for high-stakes standardized testing.
There are many tools in the education technology industry that make the 21st century classroom possible. Here are three that I use:
SMART amp is a favorite for many educators. SMART amp allows teachers to generate workspaces for students to collaborate and decipher various ways to achieve an end goal. The tool’s “total participation” nature is engaging to students because they are now simultaneously asked to participate in class-wide projects and discussions. The tool is simple to implement, taking just as much time to create the workspace as it would for a teacher to find a resource and make copies on a copy machine. However, the results from this tool are much richer.
Google Apps for Education
Another platform on the market that adds to classroom connectedness is Google Apps for Education. This platform has many different angles allowing students to work concurrently on a project encouraging collaboration amongst peers. Students can also work with classrooms outside their four walls with tools like Google Hangouts. This platform enables them to generate schema about other cultures and traditions. Many of the Google Apps for Education tools such as Google Classroom are designed to alleviate the mundane tasks that teachers have such as making copies and creating worksheets.
The ability to address the 4C’s does not necessarily need to meet completion during the independent part of a traditional lesson. SMART Notebook is one of many tools that allow students to be fully engaged. This high tech piece of software allows students to interface with an interactive whiteboard during a direct teach. Teachers can create files from scratch or find pre-created lessons on SMART Exchange. Notebook, part of SMART Learning Suite, also adds in easy to use collaborative tools like Shout It Out and SMART response 2.
Learning must challenge the students of the 21st century to be effective. They need to learn how to communicate, collaborate, think creatively and critically. There are many ways that teachers could expose students to this curriculum but a technology-connected classroom allows for ease of acquiring these skills while adding a layer of engagement. Therefore, implementation of educational technology should not be a matter of “if” but “when.”
Try the SMART solutions mentioned above with your class. Discover SMART Learning Suite today.