Â When I think of the 21st century learner I see students that have the ability to learn on their own and to use the technology around them to aid them in this process.Â How can we get to this point in our schools?Â What can we do to help produce these types of learners? There appear to be many blocks along this path.Â These blocks can be come from home, district, government, students and from within the school.Â We have little control over what happens in the home or what the government decides they are going to do.Â Our job is to do what we can within the school to best help the students learn. Â As outlined by Friesen and Lock (2010), the teaching model needed for 21st century learners will â€œhelp build the capacity of educatorsâ€(p.6).Â Beyond having the resources needed for a connected classroom it is necessary to provide support and training to enable educators to use this technology.
I have noticed over the years that there are those educators that love technology and those that loath it.Â Those individuals that enjoy using technology will find ways to integrate the ICT outcomes into their practice, while those that struggle with technology will go to great lengths to avoid it.Â Teachers that do not integrate ICTâ€™s into their teaching practice generally have little knowledge of how to use the technology, are afraid of the technology and continue to see it as a passing fad. Presently training programs whether they are part of professional development or they are part of a university education program are scarce (Johnson, Adams & Haywood, 2011, p.5).Â If education is going to change to meet the 21st century learners needs then there is going to be a need for â€œsignificant change in pedagogical practicesâ€(Friesen & Lock, 2010, p.15). Â If these changes are going to take place there will to need to be substantial effort put into teacher training, especially in regards to the integration of technology.Â
Often professional development is a hit and miss proposition.Â In order for it to be successful it needs to be well planned out not only at the school level, but the district level as well.Â As pointed out in Empowering the 21st Century Superintendent (n.d.) â€œprofessional development is likely your biggest challenge in changing educational mindsets and practices and improving student achievement in your schoolsâ€(p.16).Â Presently we expect a lot out of our teachers, but do not effectively provide the support and training they need in order to succeed.Â Training is provided, usually in the form of a one day presentation and no time is given to work with the concepts after the fact. From my viewpoint this has not been effective.Â I am not sure what type of a teacher education system would improve this, but I do know it has to be better than what exists now.Â The Empowering the 21st Century Superintendent report suggests that the use of coaches, mentors, and master teachers would be an effective way to help support professional development from a district level (p.16).Â Â In order for this type of a system to be successful these teachers would also need to understand how to effectively integrate ICT outcomes into their practice.Â It is interesting to note that as educators we are expected to provide multiple ways for students to learn, this too should apply to teacher education as well.Â If we want 21st century learning, then the modeling needs to begin with the teachers and leaders.
Consortium for School Networking Initiatives (CoSN). (n.d.). Empowering the 21st century superintendent: Â 5 themes & action steps for technology leadership. Retrieved from http://www.cosn.org/Portals/7/docs/Superintendents/COSNSuptToolKit%20FINAL.PDF
Friesen, S., & Lock, J.V. (2010). High performing districts in the application of 21st century learning technologies: Review of the research. Prepared for the College of Alberta School Superintendents.
Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Haywood, K. (2011). The ncm horizon report: 2011 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.