“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow” -John Dewey
Although this quote was spoken many years ago, its relevance could not be greater today. As technology becomes more and more prevalent in society, and in our children’s lives, the importance of becoming a digital citizen is stressed higher than it ever was before. That is why it is so important for teachers to no longer be fearful of technology, but embrace technological change and the benefits it brings to the classroom.
In the PBS documentary, Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, students discuss the positive impact that technology has had on their learning experiences. Specifically, students that attend the school, Quest to Learn, spend their days designing video games and using technology to promote problem-solving skills and challenge students to think critically.
While some critics may think that they are wasting their days gaming, an example of a typical lesson may change their minds. Many students participated in a translation project where they translated the main points of one of “Aesop’s Fables” into an interactive video game. Through this project, students’ reading comprehension and story skills were developed.
As a future teacher, these creative incorporations of technology into lesson plans can be key in planning our curriculum. As stated in the video, “there is a power and importance of play” and students can use this play to educate themselves and others. By using technological techniques and activities, such as the ones Quest to Learn school uses, we can help our students learn in a fun and effective way.
Below, we posted a video on how teachers collaborate to come up with fun lesson plans that specifically target students who are struggling to learn.
Another benefit that technology brings to the classroom is the ability to easily differentiate learning. The film highlights another institution, which utilizes technology in their effort to educate the youth. This institution called the Digital Youth Network is in Chicago and is a perfect example of how technology allows students to learn in the way that best suits them. For example, one member of the DYN claimed that she struggled with writing and through the DYN she was able to express her ideas through film. While she might not have been writing formal essays, she was still developing the necessary skills to be considered proficient in writing. The alternative model that this institution provides allows for students to succeed who may have had issues in the traditional academic setting.
Not only does technology contribute to the education of typical students, but it allows students with disabilities to learn and communicate in ways that they never could before. We have all had experience in our high schools seeing students who are nonverbal, able to communicate and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities through technology. The picture below is an example of an augmentative communication device which a nonverbal child could use to communicate.
As future educators, it is essential for us to reach all of our students at an individual level. This differentiated instruction is most successful when technology is incorporated because it allows students various outlets and paths to learn using the method that is best suited for them. Since most students now are “digital natives,” it is crucial that we meet students where they are and keep up with technology and all the changes it encompasses.