Sunday, June 8, 2008

What 21st Century Learning Means to Me

If you are reading this, you are already an active member of the technological revolution that has swept the globe. By reading this blog (and probably by bookmarking several others), you have already committed to opening up your mind to perspectives beyond your own. Does everyone out there embrace this type of technology as a way to see what the grass is like in another yard? Maybe. Maybe not. The real question I pose to you is this… How do you/we utilize newfound technologies in a fashion that move the next generation forward in a meaningful and productive manner? It is one thing to simply enjoy technology; it is quite another thing to sow it into fertile ground.

Blogging is certainly not the only tool or term we can use that has become a hot topic with our younger generation. There are podcasts, handhelds (aka palmtops), avatars, hotspots, wikis, RSS, mp3 players, social networking, IMs, Twitter, GPS devices, chat rooms, Moodle (and tons of other open source applications), social bookmarks… the list could go on and on, literally. Having an extensive list is great. Incorporating this same list into the average classroom is phenomenal. Watching students inquisitively grasp new information with the aid of technology – priceless.

Fortunately for North Carolina, the State Board of Education here has adopted 5 goals related to 21st Century Leaning. What does this mean for classrooms across this state? Fertile ground has been found. The five goals are:

-North Carolina public schools will produce globally competitive students.
-North Carolina public schools will be led by 21st Century professionals.
-North Carolina public school students will be healthy and responsible.
-Leadership will guide innovation in North Carolina public schools.
-North Carolina public schools will be governed and supported by 21st Century systems.

Translated, the five goals simply mean that our students will be competitive not only with the neighboring state, but with a continent they connect with through video conferencing. It means that NC teachers will be a leader in their classrooms. Not simply the guru on a particular subject, or the disciplinarian at the front of the room, but rather a leader in using the right tools to entice each student to learn using resources in addition to books, paper and pencils. It means our students will be taught not only about technology but how to use it in a manner that will produce tangible output to abstract ideas they imagined only hours earlier. It means those in educational positions outside of the classroom will serve as partners to those teachers in the classroom… partners whose responsibility is to provide the ongoing support, training, and encouragement to move students forward with technology as a platform.

Can technology in the classroom be considered greener grass? Certainly! But, only if watered and fertilized with the necessities of knowledge… and adequate and successful integration of that knowledge. Regardless of the subject, every classroom can benefit from 21st century learning skills.