Understanding 21st Century Learning

In order to get off the ground, your first reading assignment is attached below. It consists of 2 chapters covering the idea of 21st century learning and learners. Readings and your reflections will generally be due on Sundays of the week we will discuss them. In this case, it will be due by 8/28. If you are running into issue posting we’ll address those next week.

The concept of 21st century learning has become something of a buzz word in education lately. Most adults grew up prior to the Internet and as we moved into the 21st century computers and the Internet were becoming central to our lives. As such, people tend to think that 21st century skills and learning are somehow related to technology. The fact is they are not really related except that technology allows us to expand on the potential of 21st century skills.

In reality, what we are really talking about is critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, creativity, innovation, etc. These are the 21st century skills. You might argue that they were 20th century skills too. They were, but they were not greatly integrated into teaching. Life in the 21st century requires a better grasp of these skills if a student is to be competitive in the global economy and competent users of the overload of information that is becoming highly fragmented, widely distributed and increasingly biased. At least one writer has suggested these skills aren’t really 21st century either but Nth Century (read that for context).

In short, learning in the 21st century is about learning how to learn, communicate, and contribute in meaning ways. There is simply way too much info in the world and no way to cram it all in into kids’ heads. Paulo Freire was critical about what he called the banking model of teaching (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Freire#Banking_model_of_education) in which students just had their heads filled with info. Actually, that wikipedia link does a good job of explaining it. Contrast this with the agricultural model of education. There is an outstanding Ted talk on this (http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html). Rather than a banking model, Sir Robinson in the video contrasts with an industrial model.

Anyway, here are the chapters. Post your reflection here by 8/28 (Wed).

You do not need to reply to each chapter though you can if you wish. In general, just respond to what really stood out for you as interesting, a challenge, a problem, etc.


25 thoughts on “Understanding 21st Century Learning

  1. Chapter 1: Exploring 21st Century Learning
    I thought that this chapter was very interesting and I never knew how much teachers can incorporate technology in their classrooms. From reading this chapter, I learned that when students are using and trying out the different “tools”, as a teacher, it is important to assess each student is doing, that way teachers are able to see what the students strengths are and what they might need help with. While I was reading this chapter, there was one topics that became interesting to me. When it talked about Mobile Assessment Tools, I was able to reflect back to High School. My Science teacher would always allow us to do practice quizzes by using a handheld digital device that she provided. Once every student answered each question ( which appeared on the smart board), then the device would transfer each students answer on the smart board, as well as stating if the answer was correct or incorrect. I thought this was a great way for my Science teacher to see how each student was doing and if they were having troubles. At every school that I do observation hours in, I always here about DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). However, I never knew that there was a software made to provide automated timing and scoring of students results, while they read. I thought that was pretty cool! I am still a little confused on what exactly the Assure Model is. Is it just assessing each individual child in order to know what level they are at as well as their characteristics in order to choose appropriate strategies and materials??

    • I assume you are talking about clickers. These can definitely be useful and they are becoming more common in college lecture halls as a way for the instructor to monitor student understanding and be able to adapt on the fly. However, it’s important to recognize that this type of teaching, in general, is teacher-centered and 21st century teaching is student-centered. We will certainly be talking about this more, but the important thing to keep in mind is that good uses of technology (transforming uses to use the term from the next reading) are those that allow the students to do new things in new ways and encourage thinking at new and higher levels. There are, of course, assessment tools as well, like DIBELS, that are useful for data collection but we will keep those separate from student uses of technology.

    • Chapter 1 response:
      This chapter was very informative and opened my eyes to a lot of new things. There were some things that I agreed with and other things that I didn’t really agree with. One of the things talked about in this chapter were the advantages of using technology in the classroom. The main idea I liked out of this section was that you can store massive amounts of information in one place (your computer). Being able to store various worksheets/tests/quizzes/assignments all in one place seems so helpful. Keeping all these in the classroom would make it cluttered and a mess! Another idea from this chapter I agreed with was that technology allows the student to not be confined to the classroom. Having technology allows them to pull up any web page and experience things first hand. There were somethings I disagreed with though. This chapter mentioned that technology almost takes over as the teacher, and the teacher becomes more of a supervisor or monitor. This is probably the only reason why I don’t like the idea of technology in my classroom. I have wanted to be teacher for as long as I can remember for the main purpose of teaching and inspiring young children. I don’t like the idea of not being able to do that anymore….and just become a monitor of the learning going on. I also do not want student to rely on technology for everything. These days thats all kids do…play video games, watch t.v., etc. I’m afraid that that todays society is teaching our youth to use technology TOO much. They need to remember that reading an actual book or learning things without technology is okay too.

      • I don’t know that “taking over” is really the best way to put it. 21st century teaching is not about the teacher sharing their wisdom as students simply take it all in. Instead, 21st century teaching is about creating opportunities and environments for students to discover and learn on their own. The teacher is still essential. Someone has to understand how to make the conditions right for learning and facilitate. However, the traditional model of teaching is dying. In fact, I’d argue it’s already dead but not everyone has received the message yet. We will spend the majority of the semester trying to understand what this means and how to be the best 21st century teacher.

  2. Chapter 2: Understanding 21st Century Learners
    I also thought this chapter was very interesting and left me learning new information. From many of my other classes that I have taken, I always have been told that it is very important, as a teacher, to know what level each student is at. I have also been told that it is important for teachers to become skilled at differentiating instruction, that way they are able to ensure that all students are challenged appropriately in their learning. It talked about those things, a lot in this chapter, and it shows me that if a teacher doesn’t know their students, then there really isn’t any way that they can help those students achieve academically. Something else that was interesting to me was that now days technology is becoming common in schools and it is important for teachers to guide students to use different media sources for their learning. This was interesting to me because from when I was in grade school compared to now, there are so many different tools and forms of technology that are used in classrooms. I can’t even imagine what kind of technology there will be in ten years!!!!

    • Good observations. You should definitely know your students, but one of the cool things about 21st century teaching and transforming uses of technology is that it allows students to work at whatever level they feel comfortable and in whatever way they choose. In other words, well designed lessons allow students to self-differentiate. The job of the teacher is to design these lessons and look for ways to support and encourage students to work just above their comfort zone because it is when we challenge students that they actually learn. Students are often not accustomed to being challenged (and we should probably be asking why) and when they complain that “this is hard” I remind students that school is supposed to be hard because learning is hard. If it’s easy then they already know it and aren’t learning.

    • In our previous classes together it has been drilled into our heads that we need to assess each child on their own level, however few of our teachers have taught us what to do once we’ve assessed. When the author discussed how it is impossible to have a reservoir of knowledge “at hand”, it made me think of a ways we can help our students who are different levels. That then leads into the discussion of metacognition. If we can help our kids learn how to regulate their own learning that may help them when they are behind/ahead. I’m not sure how exactly technology is able to benefit each child, yet, but I am looking forward to finally finding a way to help each child as an individual on their own unique level.

  3. Chapter 1
    I think that the idea of using technology in the classroom home more benefits than not using it. Not only does using technology keep things in the classroom fresh and new but it will also help the students out in the real world. Most jobs require you to have some sort of background with a computer, so the students that get exposed to programs on a computer will have a head up on their competition that never used a computer in school. Also as technology keeps expanding our students wont be using a pen and paper to write on but rather a computer to type on. There’s also a part in the chapter that talks about students learning disabilities. Technology would come in handy to help the students with the disabilities by helping them get specified programs to help them learn.
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 2 has some good points about the teacher getting to know their student and know how they learn. I think that before any teacher starts a new school year with their class they should get to know how each student learns so that way they can do the teaching plan around all of their students, That way none of the students get left behind.I also like how this chapter goes back to chapter one on how important it is that students learn with technology and not just the standard text books

  4. One of the biggest things that stood out to me after reading Understanding 21st Century Learners, I found that as a teacher it is important to cater to what each student is going to need. There are several different methods of teaching, but more importantly, there are also many ways of learning. If we, teachers, don’t broaden our own methods then there is a large chance that students miss out on a learning opportunity. Each student is going to be different and are going to take in information, and keep information, in a variety of ways and it is our job to make sure each student get what they need to become the best they can be, and by doing this I believe we ourselves will become the best teachers we can be. Another big aspect I pulled from this article is that most things have advantages, but also has limitations and I think its important to know what the limitations are to certain methods so that you can find a way to over come the limits and make sure you’re not holding your students back.

  5. What I really got out of the assigned reading was that the 21st Century learner is different then previous students in many ways. Not only must they learn new skills in order to operate technology, they must take the vast amount of information that is at their fingertips and adapt it for every day use. In the past education has been so focused on obtaining and retaining information, but now I think that in this time period of great advancement, education has progressed past the point of just gathering data to taking what we know and creating something new with that information.
    I’m not saying that we should stop teaching fundamental abilities like addition and subtraction, but after those concepts have been appropriately learned and understood, what is the point of adding the same numbers everyday if we know we will get the same answers? Why not plot the data and asses the results? As pg. 24 of the second chapter states, learners must develop competency in inquiry.I feel like the 21st Century learner should be asking how, why, what does this mean for us as human beings?
    Granted, this idea is not perfect, and if basic understanding has not been properly developed then students will face many challenges but I think that the opportunity for astounding innovation is almost in our grasp.

  6. Chapter 1:
    I thought this article was pretty interesting. I have never really taken the time to think about what Media was and how much it is used in the classroom. Technology in the classroom is normal for us now and since we have all pretty much grown up with technology gradually becoming more prominent in the classroom, I personally never thought about how technology has become such a necessity. I thought the box information on the technology that is used for children with disabilities was very interesting because that is eventually where I want to go with my career. I hope to get my masters in Special Education so it was great to read about technology helping those children as well!

    Chapter 2:
    My other education classes have always talked about the theories and the multiple intelligences, but I was a little surprised to read about them in a technology class. After thinking about it, it makes sense that it would be talked about in this class as well. Since technology has become a necessity, it is extremely important to remember that no one learns the same way so even when we use technology in the classroom, we have to be able to incorporate several ways to use it in order to benefit every child’s way of learning. I thought the ‘information processing habits’ was really helpful because I kind of remember hearing about them in a class but I thought it was explained well about what each type of learner prefers when it comes to the technique they learn best with.

    • The real power of technology comes through individualizing learning. It allow students to engage and learn in their own way at their own pace. No teacher can meet the needs of all students simultaneously.

  7. There were many sections of these two chapters I found interesting. One that stood out to me was about the Media Centers. In the school I attended we made many new additions to our library to turn it into a Media Center and it was very beneficial. These centers allow both the students and the teacher to get a hold of any information needed. There is great equipment to be used like internet connected computers, online libraries, reference materials, and educational software. Teachers are able to gather any resources needed to incorporate into their lessons. I believe these media centers are going to be great additions to every school. It is not just a library anymore. Any information can be read, videos can be watched, references can be found, and new software can be reached. If all schools have media centers then I believe more people will be comfortable with the 21st century skills that we are introduced to. I was grateful to have these resources at my school and every student should have access to them as well.

  8. These were really interesting readings. I think one of the points that really stood out to me was in the beginning of the first chapter. It stated that as educators at any level we are no longer the main source of information but rather the facilitator through which children receive the information that can be found through various types of media. Teaching in the 21st century is truly an exciting opportunity. We have the ability to use so many different forms of media and technology to reach students that learn by various methods (audio, visual, kinetic learners). I also think that by integrating technology into the classroom we are giving students an added creative outlet. There are so many ways in which presentations can be created and lessons given that each student has the chance to find what works best for them. I do feel as though teachers should focus on striking a balance between the traditional methods of teaching and integrating technology. We can not be too dependent upon it without learning how it was done before the new technology. Technology has created a culture in which it has become simultaneously easier and more difficult to teach. We have a wider availability of resources from which to pull information and share it; however, we also have to find ways to constantly work new media into our lessons and use them to spark interest and engage students in a way that keeps the information relevant.

    • One thing to keep in mind is that technology is not 21st century teaching and learning. Technology is only a tool that can be used to facilitate it. I don’t think teachers need to strike a balance between traditional methods and 21st century teaching. They should fully embrace 21st century teaching but be sure they use technology in ways that add value. If it doesn’t add value then what’s the point. 21st century can happen without technology (there, I said it).

  9. These chapters were very informative and helpful. I liked chapter two where it was saying that we need to get to know our students and their learning styles. I believe that there is technology that can help the teaching process with certain students. It is good that technology is being incorporated into schools. However, my fear is that the students will become so wrapped up in technology that they will forget the basics of other aspects of school. Including interactions with others. Instead of talking to people in person they’ll do it online. Their phone, Ipod, or Ipad will become more important than a meal with the family. I have already seen this happening and it scares me. There are two year olds that know how to access games on phones and Ipads. I think technology should be a learning tool but we should not engulf our schools in it because the students will start to think that’s all there is. And that is where our society is headed.

    • I would agree but I don’t think we can stop technology. It will continue to become more and more ingrained in our lives and even more so for each new generation of children. I think we need to accept that technology is changing our lives and will continue to do so. What we need to do is learn how to ensure its use is constructive rather than destructive.

  10. The use of technology is ever evolving within society. As generations progress technology has became more useful in many ways. Many young children are more technological geared because of their environment. Through Chapters one and two you begin to see many ways technology is and or can be integrated into classrooms from elementary to college. They did this by speaking of simple technology: including CD, DVD, text, and audio; also they spoke of more complex technology such as clickers. Many four year universities use clickers to assist in large classrooms by assigning a quiz question within class and this taking attendance/ awarding small amounts of credit within the answer
    The approach this reading took for using technology is the ASSURE model: Analyze the learner, State objectives, Select media/ materials, Require learner participation, and Evaluate/ revise. They also broke the ASSURE model into subtopics and chapter two they brought key points of making this work for most individuals. This model takes into account demographics, prior knowledge, varied learning styles, and individual’s abilities.
    I found it very interesting that when reading the material that the way technology is thought of, introduced, and continually implemented is related to other aspects of education. You learn models, theories, and multiple intelligences within early childhood education and elementary education. With prior knowledge, because of previous courses, I enjoyed being able to find the relationship between the different aspects and seeing how they relate. I feel that between the ASSURE model, knowledge within the classroom, and teacher instruction that this allows individual children a “gateway” for challenges and successes within a classroom setting.

  11. Chapter One
    The reading for chapter one caught my attention about kids with disabilities using technology. It reminds me about my cousin who has down syndrome. He was exposed to technology when he started kindergarten. He wasn’t able to talk, so he had to learn how to use technology to help him or teach him how to talk. He is Hispanic, so he had to learn a different language, which was English. He was introduced to a different new whole world, by using technology, he learned how to speak and learn how to talk English. On the plus side, with his condition, he also learned how to use a computer at an early age.

    Chapter Two
    My mom is a Pre-K teacher for Head Start. She has been working with this program for more than two decades. I seen Head Start grow in their technology. They used computers, but only certain programs for the children were used to teach them problem solving skills and to help them develop their computer skills. This year now they have to use tablets from now on. It is very tricky for the teachers, only because some teachers do not know how to use the latest technology, of course I had to help them to learn how to use it, so they can be able to teach their students how to use it. In this particular tablet, teachers will be able to access their student’s files and check on their hours on how long they have use it. It will record their students activities to see if they are developing their critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills. It is amazing what children can do when they are introduce to technology in a very early age.

  12. I really enjoyed the Ted Talks link with Ken Robinson. The way he compared the lack of human resources to the lack of natural resources was really interesting to me. Technology to me has mostly been about entertainment up till this point. So to hear Ken’s view about technology as a solution for this lack of human resources really opened my eyes to a whole new world of instructional technology. It was kind of overwhelming to think about all of the resources that instructional technology provides for students. After reading these chapters I cant imagine not using technology as a media to improve students learning. Chapter one really answered a lot of my questions about the advantages of using technology in a classroom. The fact that a student can experience information that would not be available in a classroom or even library by the click of a mouse never really occurred to me before. Large amounts of information can be stored then generated to enhance the curriculum. Children are incredibly diverse and come to school with certain inclinations to specific skills and talents. In order for them to really develop these skills they need information that is adjusted to their specific learning needs. I am now convinced that technology can do that if it used correctly in a classroom. I look forward to learning more about the ASSURE model, key terms, and resources in order for me to effectively use technology and benefit from all it has to offer as a teacher.

  13. I think the points made in chapter one are valid to what is going on today in education. We all know that technology is growing at rapid speeds and if we don’t ensure our students know how to use it America will continue to fall behind in the world education list. For students who have disabilities technology can help explore many other options or those students to help them succeed in the classroom. Chapter one also described the teacher as more of a facilitator in where technology is really what is teaching the students. I think the teachers role is to facilitate thought provoking questions and let children explore all of there interest. Technology is important, but there are things that children will NOT get from technology. I believe that there is a difference in holding an actual book and feeling and smelling the pages as opposed to just reading it online. Also, going outside and exploring nature and feeling the grass and the sun is just an experience you can not get from a computer. Like English, math, history and science- technology should be its own subject and should be interrelated to the other subjects but should not be the only tool used.
    Technology will continue to grow and children grasp it so well. It is kind of like when our parents got phones and they could not text we made fun of them- but we knew how because we grew up with cell phones. Where as children’s brains are little sponges and because they never knew a world without computers, tablets and cell phones they grasp the concept faster than some adults. With this being true I am excited and to learn about different tools I can use to ensure I am the best teacher for my students.

  14. Technology is relatively new to me and it is a little scary to use. I understand that as a future teacher, technology will become a way bigger part of the educational system and how students are learning the material they need to be. I am excited to learn more about how to use and incorporate technology into my classroom and getting myself and my students more comfortable with how to use it. However, I don’t want technology to become the teacher instead of me. If I am going to school to learn how to use if correctly and efficiently, I want to be able to use it, not have that end up becoming the way my students are learning everything. But if technology in the classroom can help students grow and allows them more freedom to create what they want and allow them to learn the material in the way that is best suited for their learning style, then I am all for that. I want to promote creativity in the classroom and if there are students that that will be the best way for them to have that ability, then I will do everything I can as a teacher to make sure I am educated enough to allow them to do that.

  15. I really like the idea of 21st century teaching, I just am not sure how to use it in the classroom. Obviously bringing in more technology will help, but it is not all about technology. 21st century teaching is putting the students in charge of what they are learning. I think it is cool that technology will also help those students who have disabilities. Technology may make it easier for everyone to learn. I feel like the idea of 21st century learning is focused too much on technology though when it is really about the student becoming in charge of their learning.

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