Transform Pedagogy with Compelling Learning Environments
Technology should be used by teachers, students and others in the community to develop capacity, to think, interact, share ideas and resources, to focus energy and attention on student learning.
Technology has the power to do that in a way we've never been able to do before. Not that we throw out everything we've been doing. Face-to-face interaction is still important. But we’re limited by time and space. Technology frees us to interact with people around the globe.
— Dennis Richards, Superintendent, Falmouth Public Schools, MA
- Higher expectations for all students
- Different expectations for all students
- Focuses on research-based practices
- Engages and motivates students
- Makes learning relevant in a digital world
- Offers collaborative and social learning
- Incorporates inquiry-based and applied learning
- Includes constructive, distance and out-of-school learning
To be an effective technology leader, it is important to understand that reaching all students today requires new methods of teaching and different kinds of learning environments.
"Do something that makes a difference in the classroom" is becoming a call to action nationwide for a number of reasons:
- Higher expectations for all students – not just the easy-to-reach, easy-to-teach students – require teachers to incorporate different pedagogical approaches and strategies into their repertoires.
- Different expectations for all students, including 21st century content and skills, demand more complex and wider-ranging learning opportunities and experiences.
Years of research into how students learn critical knowledge, concepts and skills make it clear what works. Yet many research-based practices – such as conceptual learning in the content areas, inquiry-based instruction, real-world problem solving and critical thinking – have yet to be incorporated into pedagogy across the curriculum and at every grade level.
- The allure of engrossing digital tools, entertaining experiences and social networking communities outside of school is making it increasingly difficult for educators to motivate and engage a large majority of students in academic learning with traditional pedagogy.
- Traditional pedagogy and classroom learning environments bear little resemblance to the collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial, technology rich environments students will face when they leave school.
The challenge now is to incorporate technology deliberately into education across the board in ways that augment high-quality, face-to-face instruction with different kinds of interactions, including student-to-student discussions about their understandings, engaging questions that invoke higher-order thinking and student-led projects outside of school.
To achieve these goals, schools are starting to incorporate both individual and collaborative technologies into day-to-day instruction, including
wikis and blogs for journaling, writing and reporting
- online chats for after-school study groups
- video streaming sites for presentations
- portable digital devices for sharing multimedia content
- digital probes for observing and measuring scientific phenomenon
Used comprehensively and effectively, technology can help schools transform pedagogy, support students in acquiring 21st century skills, make learning environments more engaging and relevant, and personalize instruction.
Action Steps for Superintendents and District Leadership Teams
- Collaborate as a leadership team to prioritize your district's goals for transforming pedagogy, learning environments and 21st century skills outcomes, and investigate the ways in which technology can support these goals.
- Conduct a needs assessment and a gap analysis of the technology infrastructure and technology use in your district. (Where are you now? Where do you want to be?)
- Determine what your district needs to do to create a comprehensive, coherent, aligned system for using technology effectively to achieve your goals.
- Revise your district's technology plan, including projected infrastructure needs to accommodate planned technology growth.
- Develop and implement engaging curricula that include interdisciplinary studies, problem-based learning and the like.
- Provide professional development that enables teachers to move from traditional classroom management structures to compelling learning environments.
- Model compelling pedagogy in face-to-face and electronic learning environments.
Getting Up To Speed
Bosco, J. “Web 2.0 in Education: Policy, Practice and Progress.” (Executive Summary). CoSN Compendium, 2009.
CoSN EdTechNext Reports (cosn.org/etn reports):
- “3G and Beyond: Smart, Mobile Devices and E-Readers.” Spring 2010.
- "Cloud Computing: A Billowing Infrastructure for Services—and Savings.” Fall 2009.
- “Social Networking: Personalized Content, Conversations & Communities.” Summer 2009.
Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith A., and Zickuhr, K. Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010.
Manzo, K.K. “Digital Tools Expand Options for Personalized Learning.” Education Week, Jan. 29, 2010.
Reimagining Learning in the 21st Century. MacArthur Foundation, 2010.
Thomas, W.R. Overcoming Doubts About Online Learning. Southern Regional Education Board, 2009.
Wise, B., & Rothman, R. The Online Learning Imperative: A Solution to Three Looming Crises in Education. Alliance for Excellent Education Issue Brief, 2010.
Willingham, D. T. Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. Jossey-Bass, 2009.
Wilson, L. Best Practices for Using Games & Simulations in the Classroom: Guidelines for K–12 Educators. Software & Information Industry Association, 2009.
Leading with Web 2.0
Did you know that Web 2.0 could help you transform pedagogy and make learning environments more engaging? Web 2.0 applications and tools can help you manage many of your top educational priorities:
- Keeping students interested and engaged in school
- Improving the relevance of schoolwork
- Developing communications, collaboration and critical thinking skills—and many other valuable skills
- Meeting the needs of different kinds of learners
- Extending learning beyond the school day
- Building a sense of community and a culture of learning
The CoSN Web 2.0 Leadership Initiative will help administrators develop the knowledge, skills and competencies necessary for effective educational leadership. Get started today. Visit www.cosn.org/web20