At the beginning of this course, I had developing ideas on what I thought learning meant for students. I had completed a course in technology that had already made me question my past learning philosophies and the combination of the two (old and developing) turned into my initial learning philosophy 1.0. When reading over this philosophy, I can see where a part of my thinking was already developing towards a 2.0 educator and other parts were still stuck in the 1.0. Even though I had already talked about some 2.0 ideas, I must admit that I had never practiced them as an educator in my teaching profession.
Although my initial 1.0 philosophy doesn’t truly reflect my past teaching practices, I can say for sure that I have mostly been the ‘sage on the stage’ where my students where learning through the knowledge I was passing to them. I knew that students learned best from one another and that the power of communication was important. Also, I knew that activities needed to be engaging so that the learners were interested and collaboratively working to obtain information. If you were to walk into my classroom, you would have seen students getting information from me, applying it in group situations and activities, and practicing it independently all before completing some kind of assessment whether it was a ticket-out-the-door, worksheet, quiz, etc. All of these made up good teaching and demonstrated good learning in my classroom.
After taking my first technology course, I quickly learned that these learners are 21st century learners and they need more than what is described above. Part of what is encompassed in a 2.0 philosophy was already stated in my 1.0 philosophy but I am now able to explain and promote these ideas better based on what I have learned through the readings, blog discussions, wiki collaborative work, and podcast interview done in this course. First, the picture of what the teacher should look like and be doing is completely opposite of my ‘sage on the stage’ philosophy. In a 21st century classroom, the teacher should take the role of a facilitator or coach of learning. This means that they promote an environment that encourages the learner to take control of their own learning. The educator helps to guide the path of knowledge, helps to bridge gaps, helps to make connections as the learner builds and experiences knowledge through their own first hand communications via web 2.0 tools and personal learning networks.
The second major change to my learning philosophy is the idea of communication. I stated in my 1.0 philosophy the idea that students need to have the opportunity to collaborate with others in order to help build a stronger idea of different concepts they are interested in learning about. 21st century students will build personal learning networks to help them become lifelong learners about the things that interest them. These networks will work together to discover, experiment, research, and discuss important concepts that cross multiple curriculums. Students will use tools like blogs and wikis in order to facilitate a safe environment where they can discuss and derive at their own understandings of certain topics. It is known that these types of activities can facilitate higher level thinking within our students. When students work to piece their own learning together, to tag information, to process and ask questions, they dig deeper into their own thinking then what would be developed in a teacher-led discussion. Students would also have the opportunity to discuss articles read and to work together to discuss and debate the meaning as well as make connections to related pieces or artifacts. Also, students will use the research and tools to create their own works to share with the global classroom. With all of these pieces together, students are building their own learning experiences and are becoming leaners with skills they will use throughout their lives.
Overall, the way you will know that learning is happening will be based off of the conversations you have with students and see throughout these tools. By reflecting on the conversations and posts presented on wikis and blogs, you will be able to see the growth of a student and their learning. Students can maintain portfolios of their work when doing independent research for any topic and they can document contact with people within their personal learning networks. All the evidence you will need for evaluation of learning will be documented through the different mediums students use as they take ownership of knowledge base.
Although the pressures of standards and assessments are always looming over our heads, the ideas presented within my new learning philosophy 2.0 should be the ones driving our passion for teaching and for creating lifelong learners within our classrooms!