In classrooms all over Australia, blackboards and chalk have given way to tablets and touchscreens. This shift toward incorporating more technology in the classroom is allowing students to be more collaborative and learn in a way that suits them individually. Technology in the classroom is also presenting new and exciting opportunities for teachers, who are no longer bound to print worksheets and textbooks in their lessons.
To properly implement technology in the classroom, schools must embrace the necessary cultural change that will affect students, teachers, parents, IT and administrators. We spoke to Datacom Education Specialist Anita L’Enfant on the shift toward a more digital learning environment and how educators can learn how to use these tools in the classroom.
1. When in Australia did we really begin seeing a move toward a teaching approach focused more on the individual student and providing a 24/7 learning opportunity involving technology in the classroom?
Education has been stuck in a 19th century model of teacher-centric learning that we’re all familiar with, but there have been movements towards a focus on the individual child and his or her learning style since the 1970s. Educational research into learning styles, learning through collaboration and how the brain constructs knowledge demonstrates the need for education to be learner-centred and owned, which has involved into more use of technology in the classroom.
2. What have been the catalysts that have led to this increased focus on technology in the classroom?
During the last five years, mobile technology has developed in leaps and bounds, allowing accessible technology in the classroom. The affordability and availability of mobile technology has provided students with the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in many different ways, including using technology in the classroom, and for teachers to provide learning experiences to students beyond what they can see in their classroom. Technology in the classroom, in a sense, has bridged the gaps amongst different ways of learning and interacting in the classroom.
3. What are some of the main components that make up this type of “21st century learning” prioritising technology in the classroom?
Choice is the biggest change for 21st century learning and technology in the classroom. With technology tools that allow for the creation of multimedia, connection to the world’s experts and a world-wide platform for a student’s voice, teachers have a great deal of choice in the type of authentic learning experiences they can provide for their students using technology in the classroom. Students can be creative with words, sounds and images to explain processes and knowledge they have learned. While this type of student-centred learning is not new, technology in the classroom makes it so much easier and quicker for students to achieve.
4. With the younger generations having grown up with computers, mobile technology and social networking, it must be a bit daunting for some teachers to adapt to this new way of using technology in the classroom. How can teachers get comfortable with using technology in the classroom so they are on the same page with their students?
It certainly can be daunting for teachers who often feel they play catch-up with students in terms of technology in the classroom, but the best teachers are learners. The most successful schools that have implemented learning programs using technology in the classroom are those that embrace and celebrate student capabilities in technology in the classroom and allow for the students to share this with the teachers. We support many schools in developing programs where students are the technology coaches for the teachers. Not only is this supporting teachers in their learning but it also provides a sense of purpose and ownership for those students prepared to use technology in the classroom. Successful schools aim to create a learning community using technology in the classroom where everyone is both teacher and learner.
Stay tuned for Part II of our interview with Anita.