I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. ~ Albert Einstein
Educators treat time as a precious commodity. We plan lessons, write and follow curriculum maps, and structure our days to “maximize instructional time.” Students are only in our classes for seven hours (give or take a few minutes), and that is not a lot of time to convey all of the information for which we are responsible. While I would never suggest that we shirk our responsibilities as stewards of student time, I do have concerns that being overly focused on “all we have to cover,” perpetuates the notion that meaningful learning is confined to the classroom. Our schools no longer hold a monopoly on learning, but unfortunately, many students still believe this to be the case. A primary obligation of 21st century teachers is to open the doors to 24/7 learning, helping students understand that they can access education from virtually anywhere, at any time.
Those of you who have followed my blog posts and tweets, know that our school is beginning a blended learning program called the Innovation Academy. We have now been in school for four weeks, but we are still anxiously awaiting the arrival of fifty netbooks to use with our newly installed wireless network. As you might imagine, this has challenged the instructional creativity, not to mention the patience, of our iAcademy teachers. In spite of the challenges, they have done an admirable job using available resources to engage students in meaningful and collaborative learning experiences. Through the use of web 2.0 tools, student learning has become a social event–one that is no longer constrained by place or time. Kids are participating in discussions (outside of the classroom) using Collaborize Classroom and Edmodo. They work together to create presentations using Prezi and participate in a “flipped” classroom model, preparing for in-class activities by viewing teacher created YouTube videos outside of class. We have a long way to go, but the traditional barriers to 24/7 learning are beginning to crumble.
As educators, we have an obligation to expose students to the tools and resources that will allow them to pursue learning at any time and in any place. This is why the emphasis of technology is such an important part of 21st century educating–it opens the doors to a worldwide classroom and ensures 24/7 access. Our students deserve nothing less.
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