You may hold an exquisite musical instrument in your hands and make no melodic music. You may even know how to read a musical score, but without passion and flair, all that will ring out is a mechanical, soulless sound.
The same holds true for learning. If learning is only a mechanical regurgitation to be immediately forgotten after an assessment, what hope of inspiring learners to become life-long learners – a concept is so easily repeated, but so rarely questioned. If my generation has already witnessed and experienced a change in the career pattern of holding a job for life, of obtaining tenure, of rising up the corporate or institutional ladder, today’s generations will have to face many other uncharted changes in their professional lives.
How can educators enrich learning while encouraging an open attitude to life-long-learning?
Perhaps some may reply that educators should “teach” , “educate”, but as most teachers themselves know, defining education is no simple task. Articulating the meaning of education is challenging; so much depends on context and one’s own personal learning experience.
Nevertheless, there is once certainty I have. Education is a lot more than knowledge transfer. In this sense, regardless of social/educational context , regardless of one’s learning experience, education today requires the following elements:
As I have mentioned before, these are elements which are not only pertinent today. They have always been relevant to me both as a learner and an educator. What has changed is the degree and urgency to involve participants in education (administrators, principles, teachers, students, and yes, parents too) in the new education setting – one which is accompanied by technology and all the open options that digital literacies offer.
Yet technology is not the aspirational answer for all the ills in education. Simply by asking learners to use technology in class, whether that be digital games or educational tools and platforms, will not in itself, improve learning. ICT is a means – not an outcome. Having computer labs where students do mindless repetitive drills on a desktop is no different to watching mindless television.
Involving learners in their learning process, fostering critical thinking, analytical analysis, as opposed to passive reception of content, is the key. Guiding learners how to successfully participate as digital citizens, facilitating best practices of ICT for discovery and collaboration with others, being able to be open-minded in regard to other cultures and social values, accepting that differentiation among human beings is the norm rather than the exception – all these aspects are more easily possible - and interesting – to carry out with the use of technology.
These arguments are in no way exhaustive, merely some issues which are often on my mind as I reflect on my own use of tech in classrooms. It’s not about the tech – an easy cliche, but one that does raise questions too. As George Couros reminds readers:
” (…) Based on the definitions I have read, and the way I see technology (in many cases) being used, it has the power to be so much more than a tool. If technology transforms the way we do things, is it “just a tool”?” (Technology is More than a Tool).
Tech. Transformation. Education. A seamless solution for today’s learning?
A shift in perspective.
A shift in paradigms.
A shift in the mirror.
What paradigm shifts do you see in the field of learning?
Further reading and references:
Building Learning Communities 2011 – Keynote – Eric Mazur
Technology is More than a Tool – George Couros