Recently, the Technology Committee at Hamden Hall watched and discussed the PBS special: Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century. This committee is comprised of faculty, staff and admin from all divisions. It is a group of innovative, outstanding educators who continue to explore new ways to engage our students.
We had an amazing conversation following the video and wished we had more time…. I am hoping that the committee shares additional thoughts on our newly started Professional Development Blog.
Here are a few things that resonated with me in this video “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century”:
1) “How do we get people prepared to learn, in the future, the things that don’t even exist today?” The rapid pace of emerging technology is astounding. We are all well aware that the tools of today may look/ feel different in 5 years, or even in 2 years. So, why bother? This video really underlined for me that it’s not about the specific tools (the Voicethread, PowerPoint, Voki, Glogster, etc.). It’s really about teaching students (and modeling) how to be a lifelong learner. Critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and being a global citizen are the essentials that must be at the forefront of everything we do to prepare our students for the 21st century.
2) “Technology needs to be ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.” Invisible??? Yes… invisible! It needs to be part of everyday life. The increasing presence of smartphones, iPads and laptops on our network, as evidenced by the 100 additional web filter licenses we needed following the holiday break could lead us toward “invisibility”, if we just let it. If we embrace the technology the kids have in their hands, it could change everything.
3) All of the different learning environments spotlighted in the video had one common theme: the students OWNED their work. They were DOING something (producing videos, designing games, creating scavenger hunts, discovering viruses, re-discovering history etc.). It was amazing to watch how excited the students were! In our discussion following the video, we talked about skills…are these students still taught the skills they need? The spokesperson from “Quest to Learn”, a school with a curriculum based on gaming, says yes. “Quest to Learn” meets all state standards and takes all standardized tests… and then some! Here is a link I found regarding this: http://insideschools.org/index12.php?fs=1945&all=y. Although the verdict is still out (according to this link), I would argue that a standardized test could not even begin to capture the learning that these students experience on a regular basis.
Overall, I loved watching this and got even more out of it the second time. Worth the 52 minutes for sure!