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Friday, July 16, 2010

Change Our Traditional Approach to Education

While kids are growing up with cell phones, internet access, virtual worlds and a culture that rewards creating digital networks and online content, the basic instructional paradigm for teaching those students has not adapted to the explosive use of technology among the culture of third millennials. That is not to say that technology tools haven’t been introduced to schools, they have. But simply adding computers to a traditional classroom without a corresponding change in instructional delivery or strategy doesn’t work.

In fact, it highlights the disconnection between how the third millennials leverage technology for their day-to-day communications and interactions with the limited use of the technology within an academic environment. And adding technology hardware is not enough, the next wave in engineering and technology education is to leverage the connectivity of the third millennials and their aptitude for creating content to share with others via web-based and mobile-based social networking tools.

Today as marketers, advertisers, video game companies and electronics manufacturers focus their efforts on pleasing youngsters in terms of design, visual appeal and functionality, these youngsters are shaping society and culture more than in any other time. They continue to push consumer companies for more connectivity, more ways to create their own content and more access to information through instant messaging applications and voice activated internet search.

Society and culture is responding to the needs of these youngsters (like it or not). Video game companies now create multi-player versions of their once solitary products. Playing a video game is no longer done alone or with one or two friends in the room; games are played across the world with hundreds players who never physically meet one another. Friends are made over digital networks and kids who have met one time keep in contact for years via updates to Facebook, MySpace or other social networking pages.

As educators, we can’t ignore the digitally connected culture or reality of these soon-to-enter-the-workforce youngsters. We are obligated to examine their culture and to integrate parts of that culture into our educational approach. If we ignore their culture and pretend that it doesn’t exist or continue educating these youngsters as we have been educated, we risk, at best, being ignored and at worst not preparing them to deal with the realities of the digitally connected world when they complete their educational experience.

That is not to say we abandon what works but we are obligated to examine what we do and carefully consider alternatives. We need to develop new methods of reaching students, we need to break down the four walls of the classroom and expand learning opportunities.

School can no longer be thought of as a location, it must be thought of as a process. Like "growing up" is a process, "learning" is a process.

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Matt said...

Hi, Karl. First-time poster. Technology is tough to keep up with, and the generation coming out of high school and college is going to be the most apt with all of this stuff. In fact, they're being raised on it. It is good for all of us to keep up-to-date. Right now, I have 2 eLearning projects: a full-time job and a freelance gig. Both clients happen to be located in Tennessee, whereas I'm in Pennsylvania. Without e-mail, GoToMeeting, Skype, etc.., my involvement in these would not be possible. So as much as things change, I like to keep with the changes.

Anonymous said...


Mark B. said...

Interesting posting. There is such a big lag time in schools and technology that it seems almost unrealistic to expect schools to stay on the cutting edge of technology. There is also the concern that having teachers struggle to work into the classroom flash-in-the-pan technology will take their attention away from the content that they are supposed to be teaching. If schools had a dedicated technology resource, and I'm not just talking about the library and media specialists currently doing ten different jobs at once, then that technology resource could possibly help sort the wheat from the chaff of the new technology and help demonstrate to the teachers how it could be used. From there, teachers would be on the hook to integrate it into their classes and at the same time make it actually valuable.

There was just a posting in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that seems to be the antithesis to this argument:

Thanks for the interesting read.

Mark Burke
Accurate Assessments

Tehseen hasan bajwa said...

Thanks for this nice post. you are improving day by day
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