The 21st Century Classroom: Books and Technology Co-Existing<br />                          ...
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
The 21st century classroom
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The 21st century classroom

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The 21st century classroom

  1. 1. The 21st Century Classroom: Books and Technology Co-Existing<br /> Sarah Lewis<br /> University of West Georgia<br /> Dr. Judy Butler<br /> ENGL 4231.01 (Tuesday)<br /> Abstract<br />Many educators are torn about how to incorporate new technology they are given by their <br />school, with the traditional elements (books, paper, and files etc.) already in the classroom. This <br />paper looks at the pro’s and con’s of new technology like computers, SMART Boards™, and <br />virtual fieldtrips in contrast to what have become the staples of the teacher. In addition, schools <br />that have been based completely on technology and the eradication of all books, believe they <br />have proof that they are better preparing their students for future jobs. The problem with this <br />notion, is that it is expensive. Many schools are still using books that are twenty or more years <br />old and they may only have a handful of computers for their entire school. The reality is that <br />teachers need to learn to intertwine new technology with old ways so that they effectively co-<br />exist. This is the most efficient way to take on teaching for the 21st century.<br />Key words: 21st century classrooms, teaching, books, educators, computer, technology.<br /> The 21st Century Classroom: Tradition & Technology Co-Existing<br /> Many American educators have wondered if books will become obsolete in the classroom. <br />With the rise of the Amazon Reader®, and the Kindle®, many think it is just a matter of time <br />before all tangible material, like paper, will no longer be needed. In addition to technology <br />replacing books, high tech material has completely changed the way many classrooms function <br />compared to twenty years ago. Where teachers used to read from novels, students are now <br />making podcasts of certain scenes from the same novel and sharing them with the class. <br />Worldwide interaction with students from all different countries has become a useful tool in <br />shaping the secondary Social Studies classroom and facilitating a first-hand experience with <br />different cultures. Instead of just reading about the world, students are now participating in it, <br />thanks in part to technology. However, as technology becomes an integral part of our schools, <br />educators must find a way to help it co-exist with traditional materials. Many schools are <br />becoming extremely proactive about preparing their children for the high tech advances that will <br />exist in the job market by, “reducing the need for textbooks, notepads, paper, and—in some <br />cases— even the schools themselves.” CITATION Tec08 l 1033 (Technology Reshapes America's Classroom, 2008) They <br />want their classrooms to reflect what students will experience in the real world, and in the real <br />world changes are being made. <br /> Before we can delve into how the classrooms are changing, we must first understand how <br />they used to be. What resources did teachers use to effectively run classrooms? What was the <br />philosophy regarding the student’s connection with the outside world and how it developed? <br />Many feel that the education system has failed to connect the youth to the jobs they will <br />encounter in their own life in the ever changing job market. According to the Graduate Program <br />at High Tech High, “For over 75 years the American high school has followed three critical <br />operating instructions that are so ingrained in the culture by now as to seem natural: segregated <br />students by class, race, gender, language ability, pr perceived academic ability; separate <br />academic from technical teaching and learning and isolating adolescents from the adult world <br />that they are about to enter.” (High Tech High, 2010) Because of these ingrained structures in <br />the education system, many students entering into high tech fields at the end of the 20th century <br />found it difficult to connect what they had learned and their educational experience with what <br />their job was requiring. If they attended a school that was unable to provide new technological <br />advances like computers and the internet, they found themselves less prepared for college or the <br />job force. Government officials like President Clinton attempted to initiate a movement towards <br />technology in 1996 by mandating that, “‘Every classroom in America should be hooked up to the <br />Internet by 2000.’” CITATION Bus06 l 1033 (Bushman, 2006) However, not every school system could afford the cost of <br />instituting such a feat that required expensive computers, internet connections and monthly <br />connection costs; all in addition to the costs of training teachers and staff how to use them. <br />Therefore, many of the schools incorporated a few computers (using them as word processors) <br />and continued to run the classroom as usual. <br /> Now ten years into the 21st century, educators and government officials are <br />realizing that the status quo can no longer continue. In order to create a workforce that is <br />internationally competitive, our students need to be knowledgeable and skilled in all of the <br />technologies that the new millennium has to offer. Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia said, “’ I <br />want recommendations on what is the best possible formula for investing in education <br />excellence. I believe the hallmarks would be a formula that is transparent, simple and ensures all <br />children have access to an excellent education.’” (Raudonis, 25 Years after QBE: How Strong is <br />Public Support for Public Education?, 2010) Unfortunately, the answer to this formula is not <br />simple because it requires the constant attention and funding for high tech gear like: “computers, <br />networking (probes/sensory), iPods, interactive white boards, audio, video, multimedia, online <br />learning and resources like hardware and software.” (Raudonis, Are Georgia Schools Making the <br />Most of Technology?, 2010) Although all of this can seem overwhelming, the best way to <br />incorporate 21st century technology is to allow whatever is available to co-exist with some <br />traditional classroom environments. For example, if a school system has access to a computer <br />with internet access (but doesn’t have Promethean Boards), students can utilize a free service <br />called Moodle to write research papers, collaborate on creative writing projects, and explore <br />virtual fieldtrips, all in the context of a novel they are reading in the class. The actual paperback <br />book is still a primary source of learning and the technology supplements and allows students to <br />interact with it. Almost every school in America has this technology available in 2010, and the <br />internet is a viable source for teaching students to explore their world and prepare for their <br />future. <br /> In the world outside of the classroom, the Internet has become a phenomenon that has <br />brought “Newspaper circulation down seven million [readers] . . . [and brought in] unique <br />readers of online newspapers up thirty million.” It has brought “Americans access to <br />1,000,000,000,000 web pages.” CITATION McL09 l 1033 (McLeod, 2009) People are no longer reading paper <br />(magazines, newspapers, books and journals). They are turning to their laptops throughout the <br />day to access information they need. This is not only a reality in the personal lives of <br />individuals, but also in the corporate world as CEOs who used to send out paper memo’s, and <br />now instead, send mass e-mails. Students will need to learn to adapt to this new way of life and <br />prepare for it to constantly change if they want to become competitive in the world market. As <br />teachers, we are leading the way and are ultimately responsible for “currently preparing students <br />for jobs that don’t yet exist” and “transitioning to a new world where people and technology <br />come together.” CITATION Did09 l 1033 (Did You Know? Human Capital Edition, 2009) Students need to use <br />computers, not just as an advanced word processor, but as a tool to help them think in a new <br />way. <br /> Since information is now at the fingertips of those who engage it, students need to learn the <br />fastest and most efficient ways to find information, practice how to communicate effectively <br />using the internet and e-mail and compile a list of the most useful sites for themselves. Teachers <br />need to do the same. Although the cost of training teachers to use new technology is said to be <br />often beyond the budget for many schools, teachers need to take the initiative and use online <br />resources to aid them in being better prepared. All teachers should have a compiled list of online <br />sources that could be used in the classroom or aid in their development of lessons. The internet <br />should be the number one resource for lesson planning in your classroom, second to the primary <br />text. Some sites that teachers may find useful are: www.truly-free.org/ which provides free <br />literature for download; the site includes full texts for The Pearl, The Grapes of Wrath, Lord of <br />the Flies, and much more. Books could be downloaded and printed off, or attached to the school <br />site for students to read when needed. Pete’s Power Point Station or www.pppst.com/ has <br />thousands of power points for classroom use (grades K-12), as well as interactive games that <br />students can play in groups, or as an entire class (if the room has projector abilities). Teachers <br />can also compile a list of important resources into a blog that they can share with other teachers. <br />I have created one that I use in my student teaching called www.becomingteacher.blog.com. It <br />compiles all of my lesson plans, power points, and important websites into a user friendly <br />resource that I can return to and add to over and over again. In order to teach children to use <br />technology, we must integrate it into our own lives first; it really must become like second <br />nature so they see us being comfortable with it.<br /> One of the new technologies that is virtually revolutionizing the learning atmosphere, is <br />Skype or the interactive podcasting chat. Students can chat with other students and other <br />individuals with a wealth of knowledge, all around the world. “According to social studies <br />teacher and podcasting user, Jonathon Henderson of West Forsyth High School in Georgia, “’ In <br />the front of my classroom, my current issues class learned about Russian culture and language <br />from a high school in Russia, while in the back of the room, 15 students from West and a high <br />school in Greece were having individual one-on-one conversations.’” (Raudonis, Are Georgia <br />Schools Making the Most of Technology?, 2010) The best part of this resource, is that it can be <br />used to make the primary materials like textbooks come to life. Students will still need to be <br />familiar with the lesson material and read and review each chapter, as well as prepare pertinent <br />questions before they interact in the podcast. This can ensure that time is used wisely for each <br />party. In order to participate in this sort of technology, schools need to have internet access, <br />computer hardware, a computer cam, and access to Skype or another service (which is usually <br />free). Many of these materials are already in the classroom. Students can also view some of the <br />world’s most magnificent places by participating in a virtual fieldtrip from a site like <br />http://www.simplek12.com/virtualfieldtrips which can take classes anywhere from The Louvre <br />to The Grand Canyon live. In addition, the website http://mrssmoke.onsugar.com/2959452 can <br />show students live video cams from around the world including ones that watch live arctic polar <br />bears or African lions and zebras. This sort of technology only requires internet access and a <br />computer; a really low cost compared to the learning experience that students are gaining. <br /> The successful classroom needs to incorporate both traditional elements as well as <br />technological elements mostly because to make a shift completely to technology is too <br />expensive for the current state of the education system. Also, some researchers believe that <br />certain traditional elements really work in helping students learn. According to the <br />American Educational Advisory Board (AFAA) (the number one source for educational research <br />in America), “technology is everywhere and affects almost every aspect of our everyday lives, <br />including our education. And while this is true, the AFAA believes effective education is still <br />best delivered in a face-to-face environment.” CITATION Nys09 l 1033 (Nysewander, 2009) In other words, a truly <br />successful classroom needs some traditional elements like lecture, textbooks, and in-class <br />interaction in order for students to absorb what they have learned. Human interaction is not <br />something that technology can often provide; usually it is best used as an enhancer or a <br />complement to the lesson. Many believe that, “Teachers still play a vital role in [the] learning <br />process [ . . . and] still have lectures, group work and discussions,” in order to create a well-<br />rounded learning atmosphere. (Raudonis, Are Georgia Schools Making the Most of <br />Technology?, 2010) No matter how much technology is added to the classroom, teachers will <br />always be needed to assist and lead the student to higher levels of cognitive thinking. <br /> High Tech High, located in San Diego, California has revolutionized the education <br />business. Opening in 2000, the schools prides itself on using the highest quality resources, <br />technology and educational theories to create a modern, successful classroom that can be an <br />example across the country. So far, they have far surpassed all other schools in test scores and <br />readiness assessments. It was launched “by a coalition of San Diego business leaders and <br />educators [and uses] four design principals: personalization, adult world connection, common <br />intellectual mission, and teacher as designer.” CITATION Hig10 l 1033 (High Tech High, 2010) Many would hear the <br />words High Tech High and assume that the school has a strict technology-only philosophy, but <br />that simply isn’t true. HTH has recognized that some tried and true methods of the traditional <br />classroom need to co-exist with the technology. One of these elements, includes the “teacher as <br />designer,” or the one who is ultimately responsible for successfully integrating technology into <br />each unit. The teachers at HTH are complete masters of the technology they use, are willing to <br />constantly learn, and understand that the students they are teaching will need to know this <br />information in order to be successful adults. The school, “reverses the separations of <br />conventional schooling by integrating students, connecting school and community, and linking <br />technical, and academic studies. All students use technology to research, to produce, and to <br />present across disciplines.” CITATION Hig10 l 1033 (High Tech High, 2010) Just as they may be required to do in <br />whatever field of work they choose. Since the school was founded by successful businessmen of <br />the 21st century, it has a clear philosophy on how to best usher its students into the job field. <br />Although most classrooms across America do not have the financial ability to purchase what this <br />charter school has, in the way of technology, it can use HTH as an innovative example for how <br />to create new school philosophies about technology. <br /> In the past, schools in America have been hesitant about incorporating technology into <br />their everyday lessons. Some schools blamed this on underprivelaged econmonic situations, lack <br />of teacher education, and the dispute of appropriate educational philosphies on how to best serve <br />the students. As the 21st century has surfaced, many government officials and educators have <br />realized that the classroom needs to become a place to incorporate technology with learning. <br />Some schools like High Tech High have offered an example on how to fully access the latest <br />technological marvels, while others have claimed that traditional schools are still the best way to <br />educate students. In a recent national discussion concerned with doing away with libraries in <br />favor of research-hubs, one librarian said, “Libraries are icons of our cultural intellect, totems of <br />the totality of knowledge.” He went on further to add, “Try reading an e-book for more than a <br />half-hour. Headaches and eyestrain are the best results.” CITATION Her01 l 1033 (Herring, 2001) Ten years later, many <br />scholars would argue that the Internet has fast become the new “icon of our intellect” and “the <br />totem of the totality of knowledge.” How we use this new found technology will be very <br />important in determining the future of the chldren we teach. As educators, we need to find a <br />healthy balance between incorporate new ideas with what really works. We need to use <br />textbooks and allow technology to supplement the lesson. We cannot allow technology to do the <br />teaching for us, because it can never be a substitue for human interaction. We can’t deny that <br />high-tech information has had a major effect on our society and has shown “ample evidence that <br />technology [is] having a positive influence on student performace.” (Raudonis, Are Georgia <br />Schools Making the Most of Technology?, 2010) Now it is up to us as teachers to do our <br />research and find ways to balance the technology that we already have with the lessons that we <br />need to teach. <br /> <br /> <br /> ReferencesBushman, J. H. (2006). Using Young Adult Literature in the English Classroom. Columbus: Merrill Prentice Hall.Did You Know? Human Capital Edition. (2009). Retrieved March 14, 2010, from You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzCQz19bx18Herring, M. Y. (2001). 10 Reasons Why the Internet is no Substitute for a Library. American Libraries , 32.High Tech High. (2010, March). Retrieved March 14, 2010, from www.hightechhigh.orgKimmel, H. a. (1996). Instructional Technology: A Tool or a Panacea? Journal of Science and Technology , 87-92.McLeod, S. K. (2009). Did You Know? Retrieved March 14, 2010, from You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrVrEW8Nysewander, D. (2009). A 21st Century Education: AFAA Continues to Provide Excellence in Education Using Technology. American Fitness , 27.Raudonis, L. (2010, January/ February). 25 Years after QBE: How Strong is Public Support for Public Education? PAGE ONE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) , p. 8.Raudonis, L. (2010, March/ April). Are Georgia Schools Making the Most of Technology? PAGE ONE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) , pp. 4-15.Technology Reshapes America's Classroom. (2008, July 7). Retrieved March 17, 2010, from e School News: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2008/07/07/technology-reshapes-americas-classrooms/<br />

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