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Two Fantastic Examples of How Technology Changes Teaching and Learning

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The professional conscience of every great educator guides them to prepare children with an education that develops the skills and knowledge to be successful in the world. Not our current world, mind you, but the one in which they will live as graduates of our systems. Given that goal, we cannot expect to prepare them in the ways we were. Yet, collaboration in teaching and learning, using modern communication tools in order to share learning, finding solutions to real-world problems, all, remain the 'new things' we are asking teachers to embed in their processes. We hope to help motivate early adopters and celebrate those already well on their way with these two examples of why we need change and two suggestions about how it happens.

MIT gives us an example of how thinkers and leaders in the field are doing their work. This is not a futurist model. It is now.  Before you think, with perhaps a touch of cynicism,  "How many of my students will be going to MIT?", we ask that you consider the process and not so much the location. Examine the work that goes into supporting what is being accomplished in the learning environment and in workplaces like it.

We need people who can figure out better ways to manufacture the Legos being used, those who actually build the computers, or figure out a better way to connect through social media.  We should open pathways for all and not let the limitations in our minds become the ones in those of our students. It is in our public schools that we help students discover their talents and interests and bring them to the apex of their abilities as best we can. We encourage you to watch and listen as the value and need for collaboration and cross disciplinary work are revealed and explained in ways we hope ignite you.

Craig Beals, a science teacher in Montana offers us a specific example of using technology to teach Earth Science to students of all ages. Earth Science is a subject that students are often required students in order to graduate. In some states, components of the Earth Science curriculum are required to be taught even in the elementary grades. Since little has changed over the years, let's consider how much we know about earth science.  If you took Earth Science in high school, what do you remember about Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography, and Astronomy?  And how many of our classmates went into these fields?  Mostly we know about what is happening in these areas because of news reports: a storm, a landslide, a change in ocean temperature, or a new star being discovered. But, in the mental recesses of our high school years, there are memories that offer context. Our understanding is limited. Landslides were caused by rainstorms, rising ocean temperatures by global warming, stars being discovered because of more powerful telescopes. But the relationship between causes and effects are part of our understanding. We acknowledge the information and move on, right?  Technology, and hands-on work not able to be done before technology, can make differences in who understands and can learn about Earth Science. Think about students who would learn and discover more deeply using this technology to learn about Earth Science.

The two videos speak for themselves. We hope watching them encourages and supports the shift in teaching and learning that we owe our students.  We hope also they offer reinforcement to those in the process and inspiration to all.

Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz are the authors of The STEM Shift (2015, Corwin) a book about leading the shift into 21st century schools. Connect with Ann and Jill on Twitter or Email.

Photo by cherylt28 courtesy of Pixabay

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