01 April 2012

Creating the 21st Century Classroom

Technology does not make a classroom learning experience. The interaction of the learner to the skills and content central to the class, supported by a great teacher is central to a successful learning experience. But, as any engaged teacher knows, the current learning environment is changing rapidly due to the massive changes happening in our world. Technology is a central part of this change, driving innovation in science, business, communications and politics.

I've been fortunate enough to be in a position at the school at which I teach to be a leader in new techniques using technology, as someone who is has a voice in decisions relating to these issues, and as an educator who has been given the tools to experiment with new learning methods.

So, in this post, I just want to give a brief overview of the tools that I am currently using. In later posts I will talk about the impact and usage of each in a high school social studies classroom in 2012.

I have a dozen student desktops in my classroom. These "middle of the road" machines are great for internet access, typing, creating webpages, recording video and audio (via webcams)

I also have a set of a dozen iPads and a dozen netbooks which make flexible the learning process in the classroom. In using the iPads over the past several months, I have become convinced that they are powerful learning and creation tools capable of interactions not possible on desktops and laptops.

And while I think getting technology in the hands of students is by far the most important goal in using these tools, having strong teacher tools for demonstrating and modeling are critical. I am lucky to have a desktop PC attached to a projector and interactive whiteboard. I also have an Apple TV connected to my projector to mirror the iPad (mine and the ones the students use) on the screen. I also have a scanner and printer (for those limited times when paper still is used). I also have a webcam set up on my interactive whiteboard to have guest speakers in class via Skype (see the pic below of a session I just had with a friend from Germany.)

I know that I am luckier that most educators in what I have available in my classroom, but steps can be taken by all schools, teachers, and students to incorporate technology into 21st century learning by using what is available and taking advantage of items like smartphones to break the old paradigms.

What tools do you think are critical to a 21st century learning environment?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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