Monday, January 31, 2011

Final Reflection

The book, 21st Century Skills was an enlightening book that really focused upon the future of education. Surprisingly the focus was not upon specific pieces of technology, rather the book focused upon the need for education to transform itself in ways that enrich the way we teach students and present information. Of all of the information presented within this book the part I found to be the most important was collaboration. Collaboration needs to happen within classrooms, schools, districts, cities, counties, states, countries, continents, and ultimately the entire world. “None of us is as strong as all of us. “
My hope is to utilize more collaborative teaching methods within my computer class. In many ways I am already fostering this type of learning through ePals. My hope is that teaching students to network and communicate using technology collaboration will naturally happen.
In addition to collaboration, another crucial skill that our students must obtain is problem solving. This skill does not require a machine of any sort. Students need to be able to reason through issues and problems in ways that foster global thinking in ways that develop and advance humanity in general.
Lastly, the book places an emphasis upon balance. Previously education has been teacher-centered. Teachers are now being asked to abandon the idea of teaching their content and learn about their students learning and skills. As educators we have to abandon the idea of being the expert and shift more towards focusing upon the learner. A quote I am reminded of is, “The person doing the talking is the person doing the learning.” This spills over into creating students who are lifelong learners that develop a purpose for their own learning. This is strongly developed within the walls of a classroom that is allowing for a collaborative, project based classroom. The sooner the global community embraces this type of a learning format the better off all students will be.

Section VI

Final Chapter
The most crucial point made at the end of the book was, “With Increased international educational cooperation and collaboration (an essential 21st century skill!) Every country can play a part in building a global learning network as powerful and pervasive as our existing business, financial, and communications global networks.” Twenty-first century skills are not a need in the United States, rather they are a need for the entire world. Education is finally being viewed worldwide as the “golden ticket to a brighter economic future.” The future lies in the hands of our educational systems. Students are already globally connected through various worldwide programs. Adults need to continue to get on board.
The needs of the 21st century include a healthy economy, having affordable and sustainable energy and a healthy environment, and eliminating poverty. These issues are not specific to the United States; again, they are issues that face the entire world. These issues will be remedied through the hard work of students who have the skills necessary to solve these complex problems. The final quote in the book was very telling, “It’s time to give all our students the chance to learn how to build a better world.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Final Reflection

The transformation from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age was the main idea of this book for me. Technology has certainly changed and made a great impact on our lives in a relatively short amount of time. As most of us have mentioned, we have grown up during this age and watched as new technologies emerged. And now, the technology of today helps design the technology of the future. It may take us a few years to get to our 21st Century 50/50 level, but I wonder if it will be enough to keep up with the technological changes during that same time frame. In the restructuring of our schools, the book mentions we need to make small, achievable steps as well as large leaps so that we can calculate what is working along the way and that the changes have to come from all the support groups and environments.

The second main idea for me was “At the same time, the potential for information overload, distraction, and analysis paralysis when facing demands for attention from too many sources.” With the vast amount of information at our fingertips, overload is a concern. Attention spans seem so short, and multitasking keeps us from really focusing on one topic in-depth. We need to realize that all the technology at our fingertips is merely a tool that can not only entertain, but help us to learn and grow as well.

With so much information out there, it is extremely important that we teach our students the best way to access, evaluate and use the tools of the 21st Century. We can no longer teach students to simply remember what they learn, but how to continue to learn in school and in life. Just as our basic needs have changed to adapt to new technology, our basic education needs have to follow.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Transition to 21st Century Learning

There is no single key in the transition to 21st Century Learning. The change requires coordination, collaboration, and technology skills combined with time to make the transition.

The coordination of 21st Century Skills embedded in the learning standards, I believe is the first step. Technology skills need to be taught in conjunction with the content to make them relevant to the students. The students, in turn, enjoy learning the content much more than old traditional ways.

Collaboration is required between all entities to sustain the change. Government,teachers, administrators,students, parents and community members are all stake holders. Money, training, and time are all necessities. The book said at least 5 to 7 years is needed to sustain change. The fascinating factor is that change is occurring so rapidly, it is hard to keep up! When I think back to TTL 1 & 2, the governor's program, we were learning Microsoft Office and we wondered how we'd ever learn PowerPoint and Word. Now, that's very old news! Instead, our students are able to use Glogster, Animoto, and Wikis and they do not even need to purchase software.

Technology is not a question; it is a must. When I think back to the first microwave, my mom said, "We have a stove, why would we need a microwave?" You know the answer to that question. The problem sometimes is providing students access to the technology. Some of my students still do not have access to a computer or the internet at home, so I have to provide enough time to complete assignments in class which isn't always easy when some workers are slow.

Transition takes time, but the payoff will be huge for our students. Another fact that stood out to me what that 50% of the time students should be project learning and 50% of the time should be for traditional, direct instruction. Reading, 'riting,and 'rithmetic combined with critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, computing, career, and cross-cultural is 21st Century Learning. "Learning for work and life in our times means helping as many children as possible learn to apply 21st Century skills and a solid understanding of core subjects to the challenges of our times"