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Hello and welcome to my blog. It is here that I will be working through various discussion topics related to technology, learning, and most importantly the creation of meaningful and relevant student instruction. I openly welcome your comments, and hope that my insights and presented information works to inspire and assist fellow educators in the effective integration of technology.

In Barcelona with my Girls!

In Barcelona with my Girls!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

21st Century Thinking, Technology, and Perpetual Change…oh my!

In watching this video it really got me thinking about the disconnect between what's happening in classrooms in terms of student instruction and preparation, and what the true reality of society is and what it demands of its future citizens/employees in terms of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. 

There exists an old adage stating that the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes.  In examining technology’s influence on society, specifically on business and the manner in which it has altered the work environment, I would beg to differ; I would assert that what is fast becoming perpetual technological change can also be viewed as much a certainty as either death or taxes.  Given the increasing degree and certainty of technological change within society and business it is very clear that the employees of tomorrow are going to be utilizing skills vastly different than those of their parents, or even older siblings!   As Hof (2007) notes technological change goes “beyond simply making us more efficient at what we already do…[it will] change where we work, how we work, and even the nature of work itself” (n.p.). In recognizing the impact of technology and change in essential life skills it is clearly incumbent on those in education to work to effectively adapt and correct what is quickly becoming an ever widening disconnect between education and business.
In looking at technology’s dramatic influence on the world of business, Thornburg (Laureate Education, 2010a) notes how today’s employees require a different type of education, one that matches or even supersedes the technological expectations of their employer.  Gone is the era of the typical 9-5 work day, in its place a business world built on the central ideal of collaboration and 24/7 access to information.  Success in today’s business markets is very much dependant on a company’s willingness, and its employees’ ability, to embrace technological change and utilize the latest communication gadgetry to facilitate the creation of a global presence.  So what does this mean for teachers and the current education system?  It means it is time for a revolution.  Changes need to be made in the way in which students are instructed, the instructional strategies being utilized, and the very curriculum being delivered.  Dede (Laureate Education, 2010b) talks of 3 major trends in employment in his discussion on the role of technology in changing work environments.  In his research he asserts that the definition of information technology is changing and influencing peoples’ experiences and manner in which they express themselves, thereby dramatically changing the very nature of work and how people think.  Dede (Laureate Education, 2010b) notes how peoples’ thinking has become distributed allowing to people think and work in intellectual partnerships.  Collaboration amongst people has expanded and is now considered a necessity in what Thornburg (Laureate Education, 2010a) calls the anywhere, anytime work environment.
 So yet again what does all this mean to today’s classroom teacher?  It means that they, the classroom teachers, need to loosen the reins and encourage collaboration amongst their students – anytime and all the time.  Teachers need to teach students the skills needed to communicate, deliberate, evaluate, hypothesize, and negotiate; the essential skills needed to be functioning, and effective, citizens in what Dede (Laureate Education, 2010b) calls the knowledge economy.  Classroom instruction and the strategies utilized needs to shift from teacher centered to student centered, students need to be able to openly explore and discover meaning and knowledge on their own terms.  Teachers need to facilitate and guide, rather than lecture and show.  Students need to be active participants in their own learning and held accountable for their progress.  In tomorrow’s economy today’s students are going to need to be flexible and possess critical thinking skills needed to move beyond standard thinking to discover new solutions to new problems.  Lastly teachers need to actively integrate interactive technology into their instruction be it through the use of blogs, wikis, or the internet, as students need to be given the opportunity to utilize educational technology daily.   In having teachers take these steps to facilitate necessary change, it will eventually be the students’ ability to utilize the latest technological innovations to communicate and find answers that will facilitate the development of 21st century thinking – and ultimately shape the needed skills and dispositions determining their success in tomorrow’s global work force. 

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