Back to School
It's a new school year. Teachers all over the country are feeling the pressure: test scores, core curriculum, S.T.E.M. education, emerging technologies, over-crowded classrooms. There's scant opportunity for creativity in the same ways we understood teaching in the past.
For teachers who feel comfortable with, and are incorporating digital media into instruction, there are opportunities to use social media and other communications technologies to bring mentors into the classroom, to forge partnerships. Professionals in the arts and in STEM fields can help. They are willing to help. Visit the CILC website and find a long list of professionals who will work with your students to help foster creativity and innovation. (Click on the Content Provider Programs.) By using technologies on a regular basis, you are helping train students build to communication and collaboration skills.
On their own, students can use the Internet to conduct research and build information fluency. According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) NETS for students, (National Education Technology Standards), students who can apply digital tools to "gather, evaluate, and use information" are more likely to succeed in developing critical thinking skills, test taking skills, and more likely to be prepared to apply the STEM education tools they learn today in the workplace of tomorrow.
Yes, I'm suggesting that teachers and parents use digital tools much like an instructional assistant. Delegate to the PC, the Mac, and the plethora of community partners willing to work with K-12 students using social media and distance learning tools.
Most youngsters already understand the concepts related to technology operations, but they need guidance in Digital Citizenship, in understanding the ethics and rules and safety measures required to use the Internet effectively. Once they understand these guidelines, teachers can function more like coaches than fonts of knowledge. They no longer are responsible for providing all the information, rather they can help prepare students for adult life by guiding them in how to acquire knowledge on their own. The results can be effective test-takers, students who are armed with 21st century learning skills.
The new classrooms of the 21st century have new requirements. Therefore they must have new and different instructional methods that take advantage of emerging technologies and foster partnerships throughout the world.