Adapt and change, adapt and change. In all aspects of life we have to adapt and change. Education is one of the oldest professions, and we need to lead this charge of adapting and changing.
My parents were taught a certain way, I was taught a certain way, mostly through lecture and sitting still. It may have worked then, but our students cannot be taught that way. Today’s students have an entirely new world at their fingertips with smartphones and computers. These students are part of the “instant” generation, where they can learn about anything or get information instantly. There is virutally no wait time. Can I coin the phrase the “Amazon Prime” effect? I find myself falling into this too, where if something takes longer than an instant, I’m already on to the next thing. These new technologies are not going away any time soon, so we need to teach them the proper way to utilize these to get the most out of them. New technologies require some new thinking and new ways of learning.
I first read about the different types of learners when I was in undergrad. I never had heard the words “kinesthetic” or “auditory” until we had to take a quiz in college to find out what type of learners we were. I was surprised to see that I was more visual than I was auditory. So what were my teachers doing all of my years in school with mostly lecture as their way of delivering instruction? I was surprised, but determined that I would find a way to make my lessons multimodal and appeal to all types of learners. As my teaching career went on, I also learned about Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intellengences (2011) and how it moves beyond auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. Gardner says there are actually eight types of intellengences and that we, our students included, are a combination of them all.
New technologies means new ways of learning, news and information has become multimedia. Cope and Kalantzis (2009) say in their article that “modes of meaning that were relatively separate become ever more closely intertwined”. They go on to describe how information has changed from simply the written word to an ever evolving way of combining technologies of print and spoken word. Pictures and videos also have created a new way of learning. To think that printed encyclopedias has a printed picture, but online encyclopedias offer videos and interactive features.
One article I read was a study of the use of iPads in the classroom, the researchers wanted to try to align the teacher’s objectives and use different applications and eBooks to reach today’s learners. The goal was to give students a chance to learn 21st Century skills while learning the good, old-fashioned print language. I was impressed by the amount of research and development went into this, as many teachers have started using iPads as a babysitter. Ipads are an excellent tool that can reach all kinds of learners. I was thinking back to Howard Gardner’s eight intellengences, and while reading this article by Hutchinson, I found that while they were developing their lessons, they truly were able to reach all of the intellengences! They collaborated with other students (interpersonal), they worked independently (intrapersonal), and many other features of ebooks were able to address other intellegences. I was amazed at the results and how easy it could be to incorporate this into the classroom or library!
One thing I wonder about with teaching using technology, is something we discussed in our Data Driven Decision Making class called the “Novelty Effect”. This happens when a new way of teaching something uses the newest and flashiest device or program. The problem is the effects only last a short time, and then students become board of it. I worry that using iPads, or a program like Minecraft EDU might seem exciting and fun right now, but what about the long term effects? It’s something I see in the Gruber article (2013) in his dissection of the NYT’s Snowfall, that he didn’t actually read much of the article, but was impressed by the design of the article. He said he spent more time on the graphics, which really takes away from the story! Flashy and pretty is not always the most efficient.