September 29, 2014
I teach students fresh out of high school to elderly students wanting to do what they love, not necessarily what they could afford at an earlier age, and all ages in-between. This range of ages enables me to have a depth of understanding of our current student capabilities and learning challenges. It also challenges me to try to meet all the needs of those students. While Exploring the Edge focuses on new and innovated teaching strategies and practices, not all young student navigate their world through the variety of interfaces outlined in the article, but many do. Many elderly students do not identify with how younger generations learn from technology. I teach primarily to the female population with an occasional male student. It is true that females interface with the online environment; they are not nearly as interested in the gaming community as males. They tend to engage in social media with limited gaming characteristics while many more males engage in gaming with some social media. Females tend to use games such as Words with Friends, or Wagon Trail. The description of World of Warcraft and how it teaching leadership and group cooperation was a good summary of these concepts. My son has played World of Warcraft for several years and for the last two years has been a guild master. He talks to me about his struggle with keeping his guild committed and competent in a global world of competition. At first, being female and academic, I questioned his use of time, since the commitment to being a guild master is substantial for a full-time student and part-time employee. But as time went by, his illuminations about leadership and commitment to something difficult for him felt more valuable. Just when I was coming to terms that the game would be useful way to utilize his time, he stops. Instead, he has chosen to spend time with people nearby instead of people who live all over the world and likely people he will never see, nor interact with again. I was glad for his change of mind. With limited resources of time and energy, I value pouring into the people that are family, friends that are in physical reach.
Further into the article Brown encourages the use of this kind of technology in classrooms. He doesn’t specify which kind of classroom, face to face or online, which makes me wonder about application in both settings. The interactivity of Brown’s strategies pair nicely with Eric Mazur’s approach. Interconnectedness is not new to the social sciences. Similar techniques have been used for many years to elicit students to hone their interactive and problem solving skills much needed to work with other students and later as practitioners in community settings. If these are 21st century skills then, I feel good about my student’s preparedness. I imagine this type of approach is welcoming to students in theoretical fields. Mazur’s classrooms tend to be well populated. It seems if you sit near the front you may have more frequent interactions with him. I imagine it is difficult for him to get to connect with his students personally and build a rapport. I would imagine the learning experience for those students are different than for the other students that sit in the middle and back of the lecture hall. Connecting with a mentor on-going, in my opinion, should be one of the characteristics in the 21st century literature. This webpage and content was not new to me. The partnerships between education, business, government and communities mimic the global economy landscape.
Twenty-First Century Children details the path that school should take to ready the future workforce to work within and successful navigate a global economy. The 3Rs include: English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics; government; economics; arts; history; and geography. As well, the 4Cs include: critical thinking and problem solving; communication, collaboration; and creativity and innovation. It was not clear if the 4Cs include approaches to learning. In this course we have discussed the importance of temperament, individual learning styles, culture and learning modes necessary to build appropriate online courses. I have longed wished that K-12 classrooms would focus more on individual learners than learning outcomes. Brown’s article points to the idea that if we design assignments around people’s natural maturational imperatives, students will learn not out of brute force, but out of a state of pleasure and deep satisfaction of their own needs and desires. That’s the kind of learning we all want to experience. I would argue that this type of learning begins shortly after birth when parents and other caregivers meet the emotional and learning needs of infants. Who then become toddlers who continue to explore learning based on their maturational imperatives, pleasures of interest, learning styles and preferences. If we are careful to encourage such explorations, toddlers become preschoolers who have an enthusiasm for learning that cannot be contained. Imagine if this same level of enthusiasm were carried through to primary and secondary schools? Learning the 3Rs and 4Cs would be well received and as Brown puts it “but the concept of lifelong learning- a term used all too glibly-“ would not only be more important than ever, but more embraced than ever. (Brown, 2006, p. 23)
I graduated high school in 1982. My senior year was my first introduction to DOS. Oh boy, shortly after that windows point and click options enlightened the world of the programming challenged. I was very grateful that I did not have to learn code and computer language to make something work on a computer. Now I want to. I almost feel I need to. There is discussion among some states to make computer programming part of primary and secondary core requirements. I think of the possibilities I may be missing not having a rich understanding of computer language and the development of interfaces. I am PRO technology! I embrace it. I am marveled by it. Like many of us, we have been witness to the advent of the computer and online ages. Just the other day, I was talking with my son and his girlfriend about my new iPhone 6. Joshua’s girlfriend went to the Verizon to check out the 6 Plus. She came back and was critical of the size. She indicated that it would be like talking to your iPad as a phone. She gestured with big open palm movements next to her ears indicating the tremendous size of using the iPhone 6 Plus. I quibbled “Oh, it’s like the 80’s cell phones!” She stared blankly. Never took her eyes off mind. It was then that I realized I was talking to a 23 year old, who had no idea, what I was talking about. It was then that I realized the only technology used in my high school consisted of a TV, boom boxes, electronic typewriters, cash register, land-lines, and stapler. So much has changed. I imagine this generation of students will be having this same awareness as old technology moves over for new. Perhaps we must adopt one more 21 century axiom, nothing is permanent, but change.
Brown, J. (2006). New learning environments for the 21st century: Exploring the edge. Change, 38(5), 18-24.