A simple question really. My recent studies have reinforced for me the importance of integrating new media into the classroom and the necessity of empowering students with the skills to both use them effectively and to learn how to better direct their own learning. It has further underlined for me how inextricably interwoven effective use of new media and the development of collaborative skills are becoming. In order to put the development of the myriad of skills that come along with a commitment to these new principles of education, the doing and knowing how to learn and find out, over the remembering and applying, often in isolation, it seems clear that students need to be cultivating them all the time, in a variety of settings and for a variety of purposes. To make a long point shorter, students need to be learning from these standards in all of their classes.
Taken from the widest perspective, transdisciplinary skills, collaboration and student involvement and responsibility for their own learning are relatively new concepts in education. The introduction of new media into our lives has placed these considerations further into a new paradigm. Old thinking, new thinking, all thinking, it is being suggested, needs changing. Partly because of what we are now capable of, partly because the media that has so pervaded so many facets of our lives is arguably changing the way we the think, the way we do things and the manner in which we relate to and work with others. These skills are now becoming the basis of the 21st century skills we are hearing so much about and we must prepare and plan for developing them if we are to be successful as teachers and learners.
The National Educational Technology Standards are clear, easy-to-follow guidelines produced by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The standards are laid out for students, teachers and administrators and are strengthened by the Essential Conditions which can also be found on their website. This group, a core participant in the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report (2011), has laid a significant foundation for us to follow. It is telling that many of these standards could easily be found in a similar document with no reference to ICT. While these new skills are fundamental they do not exist in isolation. The planning for them needs to be done as part of the whole school perspective and not just in a once/week lab.
The New Bloom
Even Benjamin Bloom, a pioneer in his own time, has been updated by a former student (Lorin Anderson). The focus of this revised taxonomy is now on the doing as demonstrated by its reliance on verbs as opposed to gerunds. Andrew Churches’ article on the matter lays out in great detail what is to be done in the march to higher order thinking skills for the future further arguing that since our lives have been significantly altered by technology, so too should how we assess what we are actually doing and how we plan for further development.
I suppose in summary a little story about myself wouldn’t be out of line here. This is a “reflective” blog after all. Like Kathy N. Davidson states in her article, Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age, students work harder when things become personally meaningful. Hardly an educational revelation but it certainly fits my recent experience vis-a-vis this regular blogging exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken it, as all my studies, quite seriously. Once I produced a job search website and decided to link this blog to it, however, my posts have taken on a whole new dimension of importance to me as a record for all potential employers to peruse. No longer is my lack of time or Internet access during my commute a comfortable rationalization if I feel I haven’t quite done all I could. New media strikes again. Cursed boost to my efficacy and productivity!