Shifting the idea of how people learn, especially students, is a hard task to accomplish in a nation that already has their philosophy set. As mentioned in the article “Learning, Working, and Playing in the Digital Age,” these digital natives learn best through self-discovery and constant interaction/communication. Students should be able to communicate openly and freely with various sources throughout their learning experiences. Students collaborating with one another or with experts in the area of interest proves to both be instrumental in fostering deep connections that brings this style of learning to a higher level. In the article, “Minds on Fire,” it reinforces the concept that it is not about what the students are learning but about how they are learning. I had read an article before called, “Changing what and how children learn in school using computer technologies,” that stated that learning happens through, “active engagement, peer interaction, interaction and feedback, and connections to real world contexts.” All of these areas are key to helping students of today learn. With this in mind, educators need to be willing to change the traditional practices that are embedded so deeply in our country.
As an educator, I believe that when shifting to an approach of discovery based learning, the role of the educator changes dynamically. Instead of the teacher being the head of the classroom, they must instead become more of a coach/advisor to student learning. Students should have the freedom to research and complete projects in an area that is of interest to them. As mentioned in the articles, there are various projects already started where students can actually participate in submitting valuable data as part of research and development of new findings in science. Beyond the mentioned sources in the articles, I have also heard of a program called GLOBE which allows students to collaborate with scientists to help collect and evaluate data for different science experiments. When taking this approach, students are able to demonstrate their learning in a manner that best suits their learning style. Keeping in mind the idea of multiple intelligences, teachers could best embrace this by having student’s independently complete Web 2.0 tasks that meet their needs. Students could be creating presentations, videos, music, etc. to help demonstrate their understanding of the subject they are learning. This approach motivates student learning and allows them to actively engage in their learning.
Educators would need to help foster a community that collaborates with each other and safely with the outside world. The first examples that came to my mind that would benefit communication and collaboration safely in an educational setting were blogs, wiki’s, Edmodo, and Google Docs. Through all of these tools, students can talk and collaborate on tasks to help enhance their thinking and create an environment of effective learning. With Edmodo, students could even have interaction with their teacher as well as to discuss questions about the core content being learned in class. Blogs, Wiki’s, and Google Docs all are built with the understanding that more than one person can work at a time on a given project or task. Students can edit, share, modify, enhance, etc. each other’s work in order to make a more cohesive project that demonstrates thorough understanding of the concepts being presented.
As we start to move from the traditional teaching environment to more social and discovery based learning environments, we need to keep in mind that many administrations will have a hard time changing from teacher-centered lecture style classrooms. With the constraints of testing and the demands for high scores, administrators are not as open to changing learning styles unless bountiful research backs this approach. We would need to be okay viewing a classroom as a working, non-structured area where students are talking, researching, doing different projects, etc. Also, the constraints of allowing students, especially in the primary grades, to access these Web 2.0 tools would need to be eliminated in order to best meet each students learning need.