Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Technology's Impact on Learning
By Barbara Bray    February 14, 2010 -- 10:14 AM

Technology may not make the difference in how a student learns. What makes a difference is the learning environment: how the teacher designs learning, and how they use and integrate technology appropriately. In some cases, maybe no technology is appropriate. In-class discussions may work better. Think-Pair-Share where students are looking into each othersí eyes works well and may increase their self-esteem. Maybe going outside or on field trips. However, there are wonderful opportunities for technology where there is no access to valuable resources.

Add video conferencing for a field trip to a museum outside of your school, state or country where your students could talk to the curator. Add web conferencing to connect classrooms in collaborative projects. Add a website to publish interactive projects and links to resources. Technology allows you to connect, share, and learn beyond classroom walls. If used correctly, the technology with multimedia and interactive capabilities, the student can become more engaged in the content and wanting to learn and share.

No matter what the teacher does, it is important to start with the student. I believe that each student can learn. The problem is motivation and engaging students in the learning process. Much of the curriculum is designed around what we believe children should be doing by a specific age. I believe we need to rethink how we learn, when we learn and how the brain works. Having a teacher present content in front of a class with or without technology where we force feed facts into our students is not going to work anymore. Today, students have access to all the facts they need on the internet. The problem is how do they know these are facts, opinions. or lies. Our students need critical thinking skills to determine authority, bias, and credibility of the facts they find.

What if we redesign our learning environments so students can work together and even alone, at school or at home, from anywhere, anytime and at any age. The Internet, social media, and cell phones are changing the way we live, learn, work, and play. When you look at how students are interacting online, they share everything, play games collaboratively and connect with whoever they want. What if...
  • teachers learned how to be the facilitator of their students learning?
  • curriculum designers made up of curriculum specialists, teachers, librarians, and students designed critical thinking strategies that scaffolded what students were learning?
  • students had individual learning plans based on prior knowledge and not their age?
  • classes were composed of people from age who want to learn the content?
  • students would have to provide evidence of learning with artifacts, reflections, videos, audio files, and interviews from peers, teachers, and parents?
  • learning environments could be designed around a concept where you could use multiple places on-site and online?
My 2 year old granddaughter has been using an iPhone since she was 8 months and knows how to call me on Skype. She knows her ABCs and counts to 50. She sings the lyrics to several songs in key. She understands sequences and how things build upon one another. I believe sheís brilliant because Iím her grandmother and she is smart. However, she has parents that work with her and give her opportunities to learn. I believe all children can have this opportunity to learn early, to reshape how they learn. All children have gifts and can reach their fullest potential.

What if we started working with parents when their children are at an early age showing them where they can get the support they need to prepare their children for their future?

Technology will be part of our childrens future because they already have cell phones and access to the internet, no matter if we teach them about technology or not. Even if we continue to ban these technologies, our children will find a way to get access. What if...
  • we designed community learning centers where the entire community was involved with the learning process? 
  • our students were also the faclitators and helped other students learn?
  • each learner created their own learning plan based on their learning goals?
  • each learner requested support from different mentors or facilitators based on their goals?
Around the world schools may continue to look like they have for over a hundred years. Thatís all we know and continue to build. Yet, if we want our children to reach their fullest potential, we need to redesign learning environments that meet their needs so they have rewarding futures. Putting them in the traditional school environment will give them the same education that we had and the same opportunities that we give our students today. Itís time for all of us to put our heads together to think of new ideas of learning environments for all learners.

Categories: "Learning" "Environment" "Online" "Community" "Individual Learning Plans" "Future" "Change" "Technology"

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