Coming to terms with change
This is my second year being a connected educator with RCSD. The program requires teachers to engage in professional development learning opportunities, contribute to a division-wide lesson plan search engine that incorporates technology in a meaningful way, and connect with other educators via Twitter (#RCSDConnect). The goal of the program is to deepen, empower, and adapt student learning to ensure students are well-equipped to succeed in life outside the four walls of our classroom.
This week’s readings reminded me why the connected educator program exists in our school division. In Pavan Arora’s Ted Talk , “Knowledge is obsolete, so now what?” Arora discusses what learning should look like in a world where there is an unlimited access to an increasing amount of knowledge. He suggests we should be fostering creativity and teaching students how to apply knowledge, rather than simply memorizing information that is readily available. This is exactly what the connected educator program tries to emulate: using knowledge in ways that will develop student’s abilities to succeed in future jobs that do not yet exist today.
So where do teachers fit as the world of education shifts to accommodate student learning in the 21st century? Michael Wesch’s Ted Talk, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able” beautifully outlines that educators should be allowing space for critical thought and collaboration, as well as opportunity for connecting, organizing, sharing and publishing their knowledge and ideas. Creating this kind of environment also removes the idea that teachers are the knowledge keepers in the room. Although this is no longer true for knowledge that is widely accessible, this does still hold true as students have much to learn regarding digital literacy and digital citizenship.
Curtis Bourassa’s Learning, and Unlearning post brilliantly illustrates the reluctant attitude many teachers have at the thought of changing teaching methods in the classroom. Shifts in pedagogy require an ‘unlearning’ period in which teachers need to let go of old habits in order to adopt an improved, more effective teaching style. Our responsibility as educators is changing in that, we should no longer ‘teach as we were taught’, rather we need to teach our students how to navigate the growing amount of information available and teach them how to use what they know in a purposeful way.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou
Holly Clark’s Ted Talk “Are You Ready to Disrupt Learning?” provides examples of two classrooms. One classroom uses technology as a #1000 pencil – to deliver the curriculum in a compliant-based, content-rich classroom. The second classroom uses technology to connect students with authors and other students around the globe via Twitter and blogging to help deepen their learning. In this second classroom, these students are becoming transliterate. These students are developing fluency in all mediums of information in order to understand “narratives, bias, videos, social media, and images.” Clark provides great examples of why social networks are imperative to the classroom. She explains that learning is happening online, and it is to our student’s advantage to responsibly enter that community. Personally, I am starting to see Twitter’s professional advantages for networking and learning, so I am beginning to understand the significant impact it could have to deepen student learning.
As we enter an era global networking, it will be imperative for students to learn and understand the ISTE Standards for Students. Our role as educators will be to inform students of the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities that the digital world has to offer, as well as ways in which they can leverage technology for innovating and problem solving.