"What does being a ‘digitally competent’ teacher mean? Does it mean using laptops, smartphones, or tablets in your classroom? Does it mean finding new and interesting ways to use those devices along with apps and web tools? What level of expertise with technology constitutes ‘competent’? Or does the concept encompass more than that? Do things like digital citizenship, acceptable use policies, digital footprints, and privacy concerns ring a bell.
Just like in real life, being well-rounded is important when you’re addressing technology use. Having the ability to say, use an laptop isn’t really enough. The handy infographic below explores what it means to be a digitally competent teacher."
Educational theory and practice have begun to appear more frequently in the popular press. Terms such as collaborative learning, project-based learning, metacognition, inquiry-based learning, and so on, might be new to some audiences, but they have a relatively long and well-documented history for many educators. The most widely-known and promising pedagogical approach is constructivism grounded on the work of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner. Given how it has transformed my own understanding of pedagogy, teaching, and learning, constructionism seems ripe for a similar resurgence — like a phoenix rising from the ashes of Taylorization and standardized testing. Constructionism brings creativity, tinkering, exploring, building, and presentation to the forefront of the learning process.
Over the last decade my teaching has undergone a dramatic transformation as I played with many methods for getting my students to learn not only through doing, but also through creating. Initially this interest was sparked by a belief that targeting the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised) would lead to mastery in all the other cognitive domains. Later it was bolstered by an interest in creating more collaborative learning opportunities for my students.
I also felt passionately that anything my students create should have an authentic audience. I realized, after reading the works of influential writing theorist Peter Elbow, that when they wrote essays for me, they were writing to be judged, not writing to inform. Elbow argued that:
"When students write for teachers, they are writing ‘uphill’ in the authority dimension: instead of having the normal language-using experience of trying to communicate ‘across’ to others in order to tell them what’s on their mind, they are having the experience of trying to communicate ‘up’ to someone whose only reason for reading is to judge the acceptability of what they wrote and how they wrote it."
My first experiment was in having them write essays for their classmates, and although it was a vast improvement, still the audience seemed less than authentic.
Fortunately, my efforts to transform the way I teach came at the same time we were experiencing the societal shift from information consumerism to a production and remix culture. Now my students could write for a truly authentic audience through blogs, wikis, and websites.
As I strove to facilitate learning through creating, I realized that text-based creations were only the surface and started to build learning experiences in which my students explored and leveraged the wealth of creativity tools which were freely available online, including podcasting, screencasting, online presentation, mindmapping, animation, and infographic tools.
"Is our education system broken? Answers to this question differ depending on the perspective from which each one of us looks at it and also in terms of what we mean by broken. This question has also been the theme that several scholars and educators from all around the world covered in their TED talks."
VideoMy eldest son starting high school this year has given me a fascinating inside view on technology as it applies to education. I'm of the perfect age to have started my high school education sans computers, but to have ended it with at least the start of technology becoming more [...]
Donna Fry (@fryed)'s insight:
How can we leverage the Ontario Provincial vLE for anytime, anywhere learning?
We write the equivalent of 520 million books every day on social media and email. The fact that so many of us are writing — sharing our ideas, good and bad — has changed the way we think. Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public.