After spending the day at the Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre for the ‘Reimagining Learning’ event and reflecting on my own growth in this area, I’ve realised two things:
1. I’m doing pretty well as a C21 learner.
2. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a great C21 teacher.
The keynote speaker, Dr Alec Couros shared this great summary of 21st Century skills with us:
21st Century Readers/Writers Must…
- Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
- Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross culturally
- Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes.
- Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.
- Create, critique and analyse multimedia texts
- Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by those complex environments
NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment (2007)
So how am I going against those standards both personally and as an educator?
1. Develop proficiency with the tools of technology.
I’m really pleased with my personal progress against this standard. In the past two years I’ve taught myself to use Twitter, to blog and to use social bookmarking and curation tools such as Pinterest and ScoopIt. I’ve recently started podcasting and I suppose its only a matter of time before I move into some sort of animation or video creation. I’m also very comfortable with using Google Apps for personal and collaborative projects
However, when it comes to teaching students these tools, I’ve made some progress but tend to drop the ball a lot. Last year I had my students blogging, but this year we haven’t really gotten around to it. This year I started a class blog but haven’t kept it up. Last year I had a class Twitter account, but this year it all seemed too hard. While I use collaborative tools such as Google Apps, it’s never occurred to me to use them with my students (though that might change when Apps for Education are launched in DEC schools).
2. Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross culturally
Once again, I’m pleased with how I’m going in this area. Thanks to Twitter, and my the DEC network on Yammer, I’ve built a huge personal learning network of teachers, some whom I’ve never met, others who have become good friends. We pose questions and solve problems collaboratively. Twitter chats are awesome for this. We share resources to help each other out, and through these connections I’m now collaborating on two major projects: EduTweetOz and Teachers Education Review.
While I’m certainly collecting great ideas for teaching through the relationships I’ve built on Twitter and Yammer, I haven’t succeeded in providing opportunities for my students to do the same. Last year my class connected with some other classes around the world through our blogs, however I didn’t find that this facilitated any real relationships or collaboration. The only real purpose was to provide a sense of connectedness and a real audience for their writing.
3. Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes.
I think I’m doing pretty well here. I’m constantly engaged in designing and sharing information. My blog, my Twitter and my podcast are all about creating and sharing information with others.
While social media gives us so many platforms to do this easily, I haven’t considered any opportunities for my students to share information with a global community. But when I think about it, it doesn’t really sound too hard. Our Science teacher does a great job at this. Check out the website her Year 4 students created.
4. Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.
I seem to have developed this skill over time. I’m now pretty good at scanning my feeds to find the information I want, and using tools like TweetDeck to manage my Twitter feed, Flipboard and Zite to manage the blogs and other feeds that I like to follow.
However in the classroom I’m just busy trying to teach my 7 and 8-year-old students to read and comprehend basic texts. I have absolutely no idea how I would teach them to manage streams of information. But perhaps, at this stage of their schooling and development, they don’t need that skill.
5. Create, critique and analyse multimedia texts
I like to think I do this well, although there is still much more I could learn. After all, I’ve not really ventured far into video and film creation yet. I think that I can analyse these texts critically, but perhaps others would disagree.
While I have had students creating some multimedia texts, I tend to manage much of this process for them. Our lessons are more prescriptive than creative. Part of this is simply because the age group I teach are still acquiring basic ICT skills. I’ve given them the most creative freedom with a program called Scratch, which allows them to code their own computer games. I actually have no idea how to use the software, but we had it on our school computers so I encouraged them to experiment and create their own games and animations. They’ve had a great time doing it.
The critique and analysis of multimedia texts is an area I’m unfamiliar with teaching, and to be honest, a little intimidated by. Our new NSW English Syllabus, to be implemented next year, has a good framework for this. I hope it helps me to incorporate that more in class.
6. Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by those complex environments
I think I’m tracking fairly well against this both personally and as a teacher. I always endeavour to use attributions correctly and usually search Creative Commons for any images I might need. I teach my students to do the same. We also talk frequently about etiquette for commenting on blogs, and I use the class blog as an opportunity for students to learn and practice these skills.
While I’ve come along way as a 21st century learner, I’m lagging a long way behind this when it comes to teaching those skills to my students. I’ve made some progress, but there’s much more I can and should be doing. I think the new NSW Syllabi that are aligned with the Australian Curriculum will help, because these 21st Century skills are embedded throughout them.
I’ve realised that I’m augmenting my curriculum with these skills and opportunities, rather than transforming it. I think that’s why its been so easy to drop the ball when things get busy. They haven’t been an essential part of my program, so they are often the first thing to go.
The SAMR model provides a good framework for transforming teaching.
I’ve one term left with my class. I wonder how far we’ll move on our journey.