Magazine article Technology & Learning

21st Century Classroom

Magazine article Technology & Learning

21st Century Classroom

Article excerpt

Although many of us dislike the term "21st century," we can all agree that the notion behind it--the need to reform education to meet today's and tomorrow's learners--is still valid. And while most districts are just at the cusp of figuring out what 21st century learning is and how to deliver it, the technology leaders at the SchoolCIO Leadership Summit in Chicago have already begun figuring out some of the key elements: providing more bandwidth, focusing on resources, and working with leadership to get everyone on board.

Q The 21st Century Classroom is less about products and more of a mindset.

Technology is such a fast-moving target. Increasingly our focus is less about adding more devices, which we are challenged to find funds to purchase, and more about providing services that teachers and students can consume. Examples of this include pervasive wireless, a learning management system, email, and BYOD support. There is still a very valuable role for interactive whiteboards, projectors, etc., but the roles are more supportive. Those devices also tend to be more teacher-focused and less learner-focused.


We know what we expect from our students in terms of 21st century skills, but who can predict what technology will be available next year and beyond? We have started playing around with defining the functions of different types of technology and then identifying how each function can support 21st century instruction. For example laptops can be used to access and produce information, collaborate, and access simulations. If we develop lessons that take advantage of these functionalities, then--when the next laptop-like device comes along (e.g, the iPad?)--we will know how to use it in the classroom.


Are any products essential--now or in the future--for a 21st Century Classroom?

When we surveyed our students at the end of last year, 99 percent said they use technology outside of school but only 72 percent said they use it in their classes. A large majority said they would like teachers to use online tools to support them outside of the normal school day. The key ingredients to this are devices (BYOD or district-provided), wireless connections, Internet access, and an LMS or other means of collaboration. …

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