Motivation, as seen in the video, Visions of Students Today, is a huge factor in learning. Students are no longer internally motivated. The culture, and not just students, is academically adrift, and there’s less discipline and drive. Thankfully, students want to make a difference, but filling out a standardized test “won’t get them there” as one student wrote in the aforementioned video. They need to feel relevant and that their work matters to someone somewhere. That’s motivation. They need to internalize the world and recreate it, a need for “new habits of mind”. “The past is over” puts this sentiment into focus. Learn about the past, yes, but explore it in terms of the present and the future. We need more authentic (I love that adjective in education) learning experiences, such as the World Simulation Project: “[Its] ultimate goal is to allow students to actually experience how the world system works and explore some of the most important questions now facing humanity such as those of global inequality, globalization, culture loss, environmental degradation, and in the worst case scenario, genocide.” These issues are the real ones that we need to focus on in class and try to solve, or at least develop the critical thinking skills in practice scenarios that pertain to these types of global problems.
According to James G. Lengel in his article Teacher Preparation and Technology, “Research literature throughout the past decade has shown that technology can enhance literacy development, impact language acquisition, provide greater access to information, support learning, motivate students, and enhance their self-esteem (ACT, 2004; CEO Forum, 2001; Boster et al., 2004; Mann et al., 1999; Tracey & Young, 2006; WestEd, 2002).” Web 2.0 tools possess the power required to accomplish these lofty – yet realistic – goals in education. A key ingredient is self-directed learning. Findings in educational psychology agree that students are personally interested in their learning when they choose their own learning goals or in creating them collaborate with teachers and classmates. In Understanding the Power of PLNs, Richardson and Mancabelli state that “for each of us as learners, the fundamental change is that we can be much more in control of the learning we do” (p. 19). As a teacher, I want to impact the way my students think for the rest of their lives; what they can do on a test is of little importance compared to what they can accomplish in life using what I’ve taught them. Albert Einstein said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” I also want to instill in my students a strong sense of global awareness. Following Twitter hashtags surrounding a world-wise event is one way to accomplish this goal through the use of technology.
How are these media being used to support formal and informal learning? As Richardson and Mancabelli mention, “online exchanges have the potential to raise their oral and written communication skills” (p. 28) The authors continue by saying how passion and an actual audience drives students to write better, as well as opening their minds up to new ideas and developing collaborative skills. Without a doubt, technology supports formal learning. Informal learning occurs when students learn how to safely and responsibly interact with people online. Using technology to advance students’ learning also teaches them to respect the technology and see it for more than a distracting toy. None of these gains are possible with a traditional textbook.
Richardson & Mancabelli describe six new literacies for 21st century learning environments. Which of the six measures of literacy do I see as the most challenging? Off the bat I would have to say the most challenging is the first literacy, “Developing proficiency with the tools of technology” (p. 24). Some people take pride in how technologically illiterate they are. Even worse, they staunchly proclaim that they are incapable of learning how to use technology and would rather live life without it. Nevertheless, the world is undergoing a revolution of learning, and technology plays an inseparable role. To be a lifelong learner who makes an impact in the world today, knowledge of how to wield technology is essential.