Inspiration- Technology to Prepare Students for the 21st Century
My inspiration for this project came from the want and need have my classroom be a 21st century learning environment. Harvest Middle School is now an International Baccalaureate school as well as BYOD, and teachers are striving to teach students all the skills they will need to succeed in our fast changing world. As schools attempt to become more inquiry based and student centered, educators need to change their pedagogy and figure out how to use and integrate 21st century skills dynamically into their curriculum. Our educational system needs help in facing these challenges, especially now since we have jumped the gun and brought all this technology into schools. Teachers need to be educated on how to use technology intentionally and with purpose so that students can inquire global perspectives through their content. So often, because educators are unsure how to implement technology, technology is used as a meaningless edition to practice rather than a powerful tool embedded to enhance instruction. I wanted to really show reluctant teachers why we need to embrace this shift in education and why it will be more engaging for not only their students but for them as well.
With the new shift in education from passive transmittal based to active inquiry based, the framework for what educators need to know has changed dramatically as well. Through Darling-Hammond's book The Flat World and Education it is clear that the United States is falling behind in the educational ranks. Not only is the US falling behind but has been pursuing a pedagogical approach that is almost completely opposite of the highest ranking nations. This isn’t because our teachers do not care or simply refuse to teach this way, it is due to the wrong supports, funding, and attitude towards educators in this country. Because this cycle has continued we now see graduates in the United States not prepared for the demands of highly skilled technical jobs. Hammond talks about how it is difficult to educate young people to be successful in our world but if not, “ the consequences of failing to do so are enormous” (Hammond, 2010). Employers are beginning to outsource from different countries where students are highly skilled and have the necessary analytical and technical requirements; “Our current practice of outsourcing jobs to countries such as China and India is making it more difficult for unskilled American workers to earn middle-class incomes” (ACOT²). Our nation is in a crisis, and our government needs to realize that if we don’t change and improve our quality of teaching, we will never be able to regain our educational standing.
Now that teachers are starting to understand and implement the PCK we see technology as the separate tool that can be difficult to integrate. This creates challenges in our districts and schools when trying to implement this type of framework which is an integration of three different areas. One of the most difficult parts of this framework is the technology piece due to how rapidly changing educational technologies are, and not much curriculum to show how to integrate it into specific curriculum. Simply placing technology hardware into classrooms is “not a comprehensive solution to bridging the digital divide, despite a plethora of well-meaning projects that bring computers, connectivity, or other technology to rural schools” (Muller et al. 2007).Educators need the support in using technology for 21st century inquiry based instruction in order to meet the demands of our interconnected global society. TPACK framework is the “complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge” (TK) (Koheler, 2009; Mishra, 2006; Shulman 1986): Technology (TK), Pedagogy (PK), and Content (CK). Historically, educators have focused on content knowledge as the most important aspect in their teaching.He (Shulman) claimed that the emphases on teachers subject knowledge and pedagogy were being treated as mutually exclusive parts. The practical consequence of such exclusion was production of teacher education programs in which a focus on either subject matter or pedagogy dominated. To address this dichotomy, he proposed to consider the necessary relationship between the two by introducing the notion of “PCK” (Mishra, and Koheler). Not only were these two domains being taught seperately, technology integration into the curriculum was not yet being emphasized as critical to them. There needs to be experts who explore and find ways that technology can be used intentionally within curriculum, not a separate addition. First though, one needs to determine what this inquiry based teaching might look like through technology. Because of our fast paced, ever changing life with technology, educators also need continuous training to keep up with the programs and new tools available. Just like the students of today stay updated with their personal technology, so do educators so that the students are engaged in learning which is the first start in helping them turn into global interconnected citizens.