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Emerging Technology Trends, Challenges in Education Identified at Local Conference
Despite the plethora of cool tech tools available to students in our local region, educators attending the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center’s Jan. 20 Technology Leadership Institute learned that having a strategic approach to supporting such tools is critical to their success in the classroom.
The Winter TLI event, held at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, included two keynote presentations under the theme “We Have the Tools – Let’s Be Change Agents!”
The speakers included Samantha Becker, director of the NMC Horizon Project, and Karen Goldstein, a teacher consultant for the National Writing Project.
In her talk, Ms. Becker stressed the importance of knowing what might happen five years from now, in addition to the trends that are current today.
The 52-page report, which comes from collaborative research and discussion among 59 experts in education and other industries, outlines the impact of emerging technologies in schools across the world.
Among the long-term trends the report examines are redesigning learning spaces and rethinking how schools work, in addition to mid-term trends such as collaborative learning, deeper learning approaches, and more short-term trends such as coding as literacy and students as creators.
The need to redesign learning spaces is perhaps the most exciting trend to emerge, said Ms. Becker, adding that changing a classroom’s physical environment is not enough unless student-centered learning is practiced.
Schools that are more innovative about their architecture and their space planning can impact students’ academic achievements, she noted. Some examples include a high school in Denmark where one large open classroom was created to nurture creativity, as well as an elementary school in Arkansas where student-led lesson planning has been successful.
“It’s no longer acceptable for students to be active consumers of knowledge,” said Ms. Becker. Instead, she said, educators must encourage students to engage in Makerspaces, media production, game development and hands-on, experiential learning.
In her 90-minute talk, Ms. Becker also mentioned the challenges that impede appropriate technology adoption in K-12 education, including the lack of authentic learning spaces that put students in touch with real-world problems and work situations, the uneven access to high-speed broadband, and the achievement gap between student groups, especially those defined by socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity and gender.
In her presentation, Ms. Goldstein referred to regional and national data from the BrightBytes Clarity platform, an online repository of information that helps schools determine the impact of the technology they are using on student learning.
According to the data, educators are struggling to bring meaningful change to instruction enhanced by technology. Ms. Goldstein’s talk on Personal Learning Networks gave educators ideas on how they might implement such networks and as a result, change their approach to teaching and learning.
Ms. Goldstein stressed the need for teachers to fully prepare students not just for college but for a changing workplace.
“Creating or fostering digitally literate citizens is the biggest thing we can do as teachers,” Ms. Goldstein noted.
“Are we just digitizing 20th century practice and calling it 21st century learning?” she asked.
The veteran educator said teachers need to think of themselves as “chief learners,” helping to transform learning in the classroom through personalization and connection.
Making the case for more digitally literate teachers, Ms. Goldstein suggested that more of them use LinkedIn and Twitter, participate in webinars, write blogs and engage in social media.
In an effort to facilitate informal professional development opportunities, Ms. Goldstein said we must “flip PD on its ear,” giving teachers the kinds of learning experiences they know are desirable for students.
“Professional development has to be individualized and energizing,” said Ms. Goldstein, espousing the use of Twitter and Google Plus to find suitable PLNs. “Those kinds of experience are what we want for our kids and for our teachers.”