The influence of digital technologies in people’s daily lives has become undeniable. Devices, whether they be computers, tablets or smartphones, are now parts of individuals’ interpersonal communication, work, entertainment and learning (Barreto & Orey, 2012). As teachers we have a significant role in teaching our students essential skills so that they become digitally literate and competent in the 21st century (Fransson & Holmberg, 2012). Technology encompasses a huge range of ever changing resources and ideas, and as educators we need to stay up with and involved with these trends.
One of the largest trends at the moment is the use of social media within the educational setting. Whether it be a private forum such as Edmodo or Schoology, or something accessible by all such as Twitter or public blogs. Moran, et al (2012), believe that social media sites offer value in teaching. They state that the use of videos, podcasts and wikis are valuable tools for teaching, and report that social media sites can be valuable tools for collaborative learning. Many educators are experimenting with the idea of incorporating some form of social media into their lessons. These media sites not only act as a venue for discussion but allow teachers and students to share and embed resources.
I prefer to use Google Classroom with my students. This acts as a single online forum where students can find resources, tasks and discussions to assist them in their learning. I am able to embed flipped learning tasks for students to watch and interact with. The flipped classroom is a pedagogical method, which employs videos, interactive tasks and practice problems as homework, and active, group-based problem solving activities in the classroom. It represents a unique combination of learning theories once thought to be incompatible—active, problem-based learning activities founded upon a constructivist ideology and instructional lectures derived from direct instruction methods founded upon behaviourist principles (Bishop & Verleger, 2013).
Digital tools are often publicised for their ability to have a transformative effect on teaching and learning. Take cloud computing for example; this allows us to use web-based tools to collaborate online and also saves schools a whole lot on money and resources. We find a similar effect with the incorporation of game based learning. The productive role of play allows students to experiment, explore their identities and learn from successes and failures. This is a huge transformation from the ‘traditional classroom’.
Another trend in technology development is the idea of personal learning environments with the incorporation of problem based learning tasks. Hung, et al, (2008), state that this is the most innovative pedagogical method implemented in education and this its effectiveness in facilitating student problem solving and self directed learning skills has been widely reported. At my school we use a mix of the 21st Century Fluency Project model by Lee Crockett, and the Challenge Based Learning model by Apple. Both of these models enable students to use a range of technological skills to challenge their own learning and knowledge growth.
Regardless of the trends in technology, teachers need to remember that a tech tool is just a tool unless governed by pedagogical components. Technology advances and changes on a daily rate and as teachers we need to cater for the attainment of technological skills. We are connected by technology on a daily basis. It is heavily embedded in our lives and prevalent in our 21st Century classrooms. It is my goal to assist my colleagues in staying up-to-date with technology that is relevant to them and their students.
Bishop, J., & Verleger, M. (2013). The Flipped Classroom: A Survey of Research. American Society for Engineering Education. June 23-26. Retrieved from http://www.studiesuccesho.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/flipped-classroom-artikel.pdf March 26, 2015.
Fransson, G., & Holmberg, J. (2012). Understanding the theoretical framework of technological pedagogical content knowledge: A collaborative self-study to understand teaching practice and aspects of knowledge. Studying Teacher Education, 8(2), 193-204.
Hung, W., Jonassen, D., & Liu, R. (2008). Problem Based Learning. Retrieved from http://www.aect.org/edtech/edition3/er5849x_c038.fm.pdf March 26, 2015.
Moran, M., Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2012). Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How today’s higher educational faculty use social media. Babson Survey Research Group. Massachusetts.