In reflecting on my learning in this course, I feel I have strengthened my knowledge and skills for integrating technology into instruction in an effort to become a leader of change in my school and district.
Understanding of and consideration for the needs of the 21st century learner are key components to keep in mind when advocating for the adoption of new and emerging technologies. The idea that students today learn the same way students of even 10 years ago did is simply ignorant and can easily have a very negative impact on our students' learning and futures.
During weeks 6 & 7, I completed a learning activity that integrates the game Lure of the Labyrinth into a 7th-grade mathematics lesson on ratios and proportions. While some “old school” teachers may see using a game to teach mathematics as an indulgent waste of time used for entertainment purposes only, I believe it better engages my 21st century students. “The hypertext minds of 21st Century Learners crave interactivity, are good at reading visual images (though weak with reading skills), have strong visual-spatial skills, tend toward parallel-processing and inductive discovery, [and] look for fast response times which leads to short attention spans,” (Rodgers, Runyon, Starrett, & Von Holzen, 2006, pg. 2).
Technology, including digital games, should not be used as a replacement for good teaching. Good teaching, however, in an effort to prepare our students for their futures, should include technology. The use of this particular technology fosters collaboration, self-directed problem solving, and communication – all necessary skills for a successful 21st century future.
As a result of this course, and the fact that I will be moving to a brand new middle school in our district next year, my eyes are wide open and on the hunt for new and emerging technologies that I can bring into my classroom. Through my readings and research for this course, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon some fantastic blogs, journals, and discussion groups which have greatly expanded my own personal learning network. Additionally, the creative and enthusiastic minds of my fellow classmates have proved to be amazing resources that I will continue to tap even after my Walden experience comes to a close.
Rodgers, M., Runyon, D., Starrett, D., & Von Holzen, R. (2006). Teaching the 21st century
learner. The Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Retrieved April 8, 2010 from http://depd.wisc.edu/series/06_4168.pdf