Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives... Leaving No Future Behind

Seven Steps To Educational Transformation


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It is true! With the influx of mass media and technology our children are certainly growing up in a different world. Some scientists even claim that today's students are wired differently. What may have worked 10 - 20 years ago may not be as effective in the classroom of today. The children of today are considered digital natives. They are growing up in a digital society and have never known any other world. Most teachers would be considered digital immigrants. They have grown up in a non-digital world and are learning and trying to understand this new digital medium. It is important as educators that we realize that we must prepare today's students for their future and not our past. It is for this reason that I include these seven steps that will allow teachers to transform education in their classrooms.

The Seven Steps

Step One: Realize that educational transformation is no longer a choice.
Determining a future course is best accomplished when a vision is set and a mission is outlined while considering all factors. If public education is going to survive it must change. Thomas Friedman (author of The World Is Flat) says it best in his quote, "What can be done, will be done". He further states, "Will it be done by you, or to you?" Educators must decide if they are going to determine the course of education or if they will elect to allow others to determine that course either by resisting change, or closing their eyes to it. Another good read is Disrupting Class...How Disruptive Innovation Will Determine How The World Learns" by Clayton Christenson.

Step Two: Educators must stay current and understand that educational theory is under constant change.
Nothing in this world is static. As brain research develops, educational theory is under constant change. The development of new technology allows for educational practice that was impossible just a few years ago. Work from Lauren Resnick, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh and leading expert on cognitive science, has shown that basic and advanced skills can be taught together. Co-authors Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl spent five years and worked with a number of people rewriting Bloom's Taxonomy. This revision updated the old which started at a base of knowledge and moved to comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. In the revision, the base begins with remember and then moves up the ladder to understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. In the original, the movement between levels was one way, starting at the bottom and moving up. The new revision allows the learner to start anywhere and move either direction. The new revision also took into account that learning is an active process and action verbs were used. This gives a new definition to teaching and learning. It opens up the possibilities of Project Based Learning and a multi-disciplinary approach to curriculum design. It shifts the classroom balance from teacher directed to student centered. Technology allows teachers to facilitate learning while allowing students to take an active role in their learning.

Step Three: Students and Educators must embrace the idea of becoming members of "A Society Of Learners."
Today's students may change occupations several times. They will have to perform skills not yet created, with knowledge not yet acquired while solving problems not yet thought of. This requires a population that accepts and welcomes the idea of life long learning. The completion of formal schooling will no longer mean the end of the learning process. In this society, students and teachers must embrace learning and assimilate it into the school culture. Students must learn to not just use technology but to produce, create, and innovate with it.

Step Four: Teach with the understanding that today's students are digital natives.
As stated earlier, students today have grown up in a digital society. They have known nothing else. Most adults fall under the category of digital immigrants. It is important that the digital immigrants of today use their knowledge and life history to guide today's digital natives through the confusing and complicated world of becoming productive digital citizens. Students of today must not be left to forge this path on their own. Skills to be learned by students include awareness of proper online behavior and etiquette, evaluating, filtering the massive amount of information on the web, and learning to produce content that is quality and filled with real value. At the same time educators must embrace new technology allowing for techniques that engage and motivate digital age students. While students may appear to have the ability to multi-task, it is the digital immigrant's job to also teach today's children the important skills of focusing and reflection important to the learning process.

Step Five: Tomorrow's great ideas may be already inventions of what already exists.
Transformation is a process whereby an earlier idea goes through change in order to remain relevant and effective as other things around the original idea also change. Often in my presentations, I have posed the question of whether education is closer to the Jukebox or the iPod. I bring this up because as educators we must remember to transform practices that have been valuable instead of always coming up with something new. How can you as an educator transform ideas, practices, and lessons with the technology you may already have? It is time for educators to explore new possibilities by transforming what has always worked. Do not wait for a new purchase in order to engage students in 21st century Learning. You already have what it takes to transform the educational jukebox into an iPod. The result will be educational experiences that are more productive, efficient, connected, authentic, and engaging to the digital generation. It will facilitate important 21st century skills that are essential to our students’ future.

Step Six: We must prepare students for their future, not our past.
Society is moving at a pace never before experienced. Many of our schools still reside in the past industrial assembly line era. While many educators believe we are in an informational age there is a belief that we have passed this milestone already. We are now in the age of innovation. It is no longer good enough to have a set of knowledge or even the ability to locate new information. Students today must learn to be problem solvers and innovators in order to tackle the unknown challenges of tomorrow. Students must have a skill set that prepares them for jobs that do not even exist today. This is only possible by breaking down the brick and mortar walls that exist because of the physical boundaries of the classroom. Modern technology makes it possible to allow students to interact with the real world, providing a relevance necessary for 21st century learning to take place. Curriculum can no longer exist in a box but must be allowed to overflow into other disciplines allowing for connections that bring meaning. Adoption of 21st century skills, NETS standards, PBL, and STEM education is essential in transforming education and allowing learning to be meaningful.

Step Seven: Students must be allowed to be at the center of their education.
In the past, many times the hardest working person in the classroom was the teacher. While a teacher must put great energy into facilitating students, a school must cultivate a culture that promotes rigor. . Students must take ownership in their learning while setting goals through the guidance of the teacher. Teachers must be prepared to prescribe, facilitate, administrate, and evaluate a learning atmosphere that promotes real student achievement and success. Students must be assisted in discovering their strengths, gifts, and modality for learning.

Links to videos in the presentation

Medieval Help Desk
Thomas Friedman - "What Ever Can Be Done Will Be Done"
Cisco Learning Society
Future City
Joe's Non-netbook
Service Learning Fair
Daniel Pink - Abundance, Asia, Automation
No Future Left Behind

Links To Resources

About Michael Gorman Along With Presentations and Past and Future Seminars
Michael Gorman's 21centuryedtech Blog
Michael Gorman's 21centuryedtech Wiki
Michael Gorman's Twitter Page
Disrupting Class - Book by Clayton Christensen
A Whole New Mind - Daniel Pink
Rewriting Bloom's Taxonomy
Work from Lauren Resnick
Various 21st Century Education Research With Links
Michael Gorman's Discovery Webinar On Scratch
Scratch Part 1 Blog (Free Webinar) - 21centuryedtech
Scratch Part 2 Blog (A Tour Of Scratch Website) - 21centuryedtech
Scratch Part 3 Blog (Great Site For Teaching Scratch) - 21centuryedtech
Scratch Part 4 Blog (20 Websites To Support Scratch) - 21centuryedtech
Scratch Main Site From MIT
Web Evaluation (The Whales In Lake Michigan) - 21centuryedtech
ISTE NETS Standards For Students
Intel Thinking Tools Blog (Visual Ranking) - 21centuryedtech
Intel Thinking Tools Blog (Seeing Reason) - 21centuryedtech
Intel Thinking Tools Blog (Showing Evidence) - 21centuryedtech
Wordle Plus 7 Other Word Cloud Generators - 21centuryedtech
Tagxedo - Worldle Plus More Blog - 21centuryedtech
Service Learning Project 21 Century - 21centuryedtech Blog - 21centuryedtech
10 Great iPad Resources Blog - 21centuryedtech
Future City Resources - 21centuryedtech
Kid Blog Post - 21centuryedtech
Glogster Post - 21centuryedtech
iPadio Post - 21centuryedtech
Voki Post - 21centuryedtech
Using GIMP In Classroom - 21centuryedtech
Listing Of Megasites In Education - 21centuryedtech
Listing Of National Challenges And Competition Sites In Education - 21centuryedtech
Listing Of Web 2.0 Sites In Education - 21centuryedtech
Listing Of Free Software Sites In Education - 21centuryedtech
PBL Mania – 21centuryedtech Blog - 21centuryedtech
10 Steps To Transforming A Lesson to the 21st century - 21centuryedtech
Simple One Take Video - 21centuryedtech
12 Reasons to Teach Advanced Google Searching - 21centuryedtech