Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Transformation vs. Modernization

As I get farther down the path of integrating ICT with my teaching I am continually reflecting on whether it’s adding value to students learning. Are the students engaged? How can this tool be used to facilitate collaboration? What skills are students learning and using to meet key competencies? Am I using ICT to transform students learning? This question of transformation, I think, is key when reflecting on the way in which we use ICT in the classroom and offer opportunities to students. While today we have more access than ever to ICT in our classrooms in many cases we continue to use it to support the same teaching strategies we have used for the past Century. One of my colleagues refers to the use of the latest gadgets in the classroom as ‘sexy teaching’ – it’s new, it looks good but underneath the delivery and learning process remains largely unchanged. Are notes projected on the white board any better than those written in chalk on the blackboard? Are pictures streamed from the internet better than those found in text books? In both cases, probably not and surely not to the extent that they improve learning outcomes for students or provide them with 21st Century skills. Modernizing processes, such as these, continue to focus on learning from technology while transformative processes are about learning with technology – using it as a tool for collaboration, sharing and personalized learning. At the Learning at Schools conference his past January keynote speaker Frank Green challenged all teachers to consider the modernizing or transformative processes operating in their classrooms. He suggested that you can only get so far with modernization – from the steam train to the bullet train he said – and that at some point transformation is required to truly fly to new lands. Another thinker with transformative ideas about education is Heidi Hayes Jacobs. In her book, Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World, she asks, “What year are you preparing your student for?” Transformative changes are needed to prepare students not only for the world of today but as global citizens of the future. Transformational questions are the first step to getting there. 

Heidi Hayes Jacobs describes new forms in education

An infographic about how using technology may transform the learning and practice of teachers

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