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Horizon Report’s View on the Future of Education

How do you think some of the trends, challenges, and future technologies will impact the future of education? Will 21st century classes need to change? If so, describe how the learning environment might look different

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Education is an organism like any animal or plant. And just as plants and animals have to adapt to their changing surroundings and evolve, so does our educational system. In a few generations, lecture-style classes will seem as boring, inefficient, and ineffective as they feel to students today (a little joke-although there are undoubtedly better ways to relay information than simply shouting at students). With the advent of Web 2.0 technology pertaining to informal and individual education, most notably MOOCs (massive open online courses), formal education will need to strive to compete with informal education. Classrooms in the 21st century can still function as a viable learning tool, but only if teachers focus on using the classroom not to teach the subject matter, but to elaborate on it.

The new classroom would be more akin to what we know now as a ‘flipped’ classroom. Students will use the technology available to them (Skype, WebAssign, something similar to eLC, YouTube, blogging/forum sites like WordPress or Edmodo, etc. etc. etc.) to learn the lesson on their own time. They will watch the videos that their professors will send them on their own time, and when the class meets as a whole, the students will work on ‘homework’ problems and  discuss harder concepts together. In effect, there will be no silent lecture classes with projects out of class-the classroom will be lively and full of chatter as the students help each other out.

To accomodate this change in learning and teaching styles, the classroom will have to have an arrangement that is conducive to learning, such as movable desks for rearrangement or a circle format for Socratic seminars. The classroom will need to ditch the big chalkboards in the front of the room, and instead opt for individualized boards that many students can write on in their small groups. Gone away are the days of hand-raising-everything from attendance to class participation to sharing ideas would be done through the use of clickers or beeper systems. While these changes may come as a shock to the teachers of today, education has made may leaps and bounds from its humble origins-remember when one schoolmarm tried to command a one-room schoolhouse of dozens of students of different ages? We will move forward with education, and make sure that no child is ever truly left behind.

Digital Nativism and the Mindset List: Class of 2025

Do you see yourself as a digital native or a digital immigrant? Why? How does that impact your potential to meet the needs of your future students?
I see myself as a little bit of both, almost akin to a first-generation immigrant in the States. I am easily more adept at some things, like typing and using the web browsers, than many older adults; but at the same time, many aspects of modern technology astound me. I feel like I really need to get back up to speed with technology because kids these days are truly digital natives, and would easily get bored with more traditional lesson plans. At the same time, everything is becoming more and more automated, and I need to hone my technology skills if I ever hope to get a job in any field in the future.
 
What are some key points about the digital generation with which you agree? With which you disagree?
Technology is a massive assest to education. It allows teachers to teach lessons in ways that would have been completely unheard of in the past. Virtual dissections, Skype chats to partner classrooms in other countries, online journals using ‘Facebook’ sites like Edmodo, the possibilities are seemingly endless. However, I disagree with the theory that today’s children can now ‘multi-task’ effectively by using their smartphones at the same time as other activities. From a psychological standpoint, our brains simply cannot handle multiple paths of data at the same time. The popularization of handheld devices that have Internet connections really does take away from the educational sector. I don’t want to have to compete with students’ smartphones to hold their ever-shortening attention spans, and I really don’t care if I have to be ‘the lame teacher’, but in my classroom, technology will be a supplement to regular lessons.
 
Read “Digital Nativism” by Jamie McKenzie. Revisit what we talked about in class. Who is right? Who is wrong? What does this mean for teaching and learning in your classroom?
I felt that McKenzie’s article, which was infuriatingly written in Comic Sans, was far too harsh and cynical of Prensky’s work. I feel that both of the authors are correct in different respects to the future of digitally adept children. While Prensky did not back up his claims with enough valid evidence, he postulated some very interesting ideas about the nature of future generations-especially in the terms of the effects of violent media on children. I believe that all of these new first-person games that center around killing and violence are doing no good for the future generations. However, I side with McKenzie on Prensky’s claim that digital natives are hardwired differently than their parents. Evolution, which is what he is describing, does not take place that quickly. Children can simply use different parts of their brains in different ways. As far as teaching, we can learn something from both authors. Children in the future will be socialized differently than children in generations past, and they will perceive the world differently. An anecdote to support this point: if you asked your grandparents and your children what the relationship between a rabbit and dog is, the former would say that one chases the other, and the latter will say that they are both mammals. Both are correct, but for different reasons, and in different contexts.
 
wtwintowers
Mindset List:
 

1. These children have never seen the Twin Towers on the New York skyline. They have always known September 11th as a memorial holiday.

2. They don’t understand how ‘chads’ almost left the country without a president in 2000.
3. The iPod first became cool the year they were born. 
4. At McDonald’s, no server has ever asked them if they wanted to ‘Supersize It!’. Of course, obesity will most likely still be an issue in 2025. 
5. They have never known a world without Facebook. Friend me?

Response to Chapter One

What is your theory of learning? From your perspective, how do people learn? What are the important processes?

 

Learning, in my opinion, is something that truly cannot be taught by a teacher to a student. The student must learn how to think critically about the challenges that are presented by the teacher in her own way, because there is no ‘one right way’ to think.  Just as many roads lead to Rome, there are many paths to learn a concept. There have been theories around for decades that champion the idea that people are either kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learners, and while not entirely accurate, they are not untrue either. Some people need to run through the situation mentally, others need to write down all alternatives, others can absorb information by hearing it in lecture, etc. etc. etc. But the traditional system that involves schools educating students in the same manner, every day most likely leaves many students in the dust because they simply cannot process the information presented. 

 

In saying that, simply being able to parrot back the information covered in class is not ‘learning’ per se. It’s a stepping stone towards understanding the concept, for sure, but until the student can create something new with the raw information, the information is but words threaded together. We use echolalia as a symptom of autism, but we praise students when they can repeat the correct factual answer back at us teachers. The reason many students prefer multiple choice exams over essays is simple: the act of recognizing the correct answer is easier than formulating a coherent response and synthesizing ideas. But there are more ways for students to show their ability to synthesize the lesson’s information than essays-which is a predominant aspect of this course.

 

In conclusion, students can only truly feel that they have learned a concept if they can successfully use the information to synthesize something entirely new, whether it be an essay, a project, or a website. This trip through Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that the student can successfully store the lesson in their memory, in their arsenal of information, to be used at a later date. If a student cannot answer the age old parent question “What did you learn today?” successfully, it signifies that we, as teachers, and they, as students, need to reevaluate our school system. 

My Learning Story

How I Learned to Make Pralines

For those of us who were fortunate enough to have grown up in the Southern states, pecan pralines are as much of a staple as SEC football or yellow pollen in March. However, I was born in Columbus, Ohio. Both of my parents, and all of their parents, and most of grandparents were also born in the North. I had never even heard of a pecan praline until when I went on my first trip to Savannah, Georgia during the summer that I was 12 years old. In the famous River Street Sweets Shop, I had my first sugary, nutty, and sweet praline, and it was love at first bite. So for that Christmas, my mother and I attempted to recreate the taste sensation that we had experienced so that our out-of-town relatives could enjoy a taste of the South.

            American pralines are made with brown sugar, cream, butter, and pecans. What gives the dessert its signature texture and taste is the tricky technique of boiling the sugar mixture and pouring it back out on wax paper. Sugar is a tricky substance to boil-it goes very quickly from a sweet, smooth substance to a burnt mess. The praline recipe I was using involves boiling the thick sugar mixture for 25 minutes while stirring vigorously. In addition, the chef has to stir the entire mixture-not just the top, but also the sides and bottom. Whoever said baking desserts wasn’t a workout had obviously never spent much time in the kitchen at all!

            My first attempt at pralines coincided with the television premiere of some movie that I had wanted to see for the longest time. I think it starred Will Smith, but I don’t remember which one. The television in our den is the opposite direction from the stovetop, which caused me to turn around and try to watch the movie as I was making pralines (This was before the advent of TiVo and DVR technology, of course.) As the movie progressed, my arm got increasingly sore from stirring the thick, boiling sugar. I began to slack off in my stirring, missing the sides and bottom and rotating slower and slower. Suddenly, a horrible smell came to my attention and I realized that the stench was the signature scent of scorched sugar. I tried to turn off the stovetop and remove the large soup tureen I was working with (I had intended to make many, many pralines) to save the dessert, but to no avail. The sugar had completed its chemical transformation to a black brick, and it took the pot with it. There were no pralines that night.

            If at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try again, right? So the next Christmas, I tried again. I paid more attention, allowed for no distractions in the kitchen, and made sure that I was using the correct stirring technique. But, maybe the pot was the wrong kind of metal, or maybe the heat was too high, for I again ruined the praline mixture. I had learned my lesson-I would never, ever be a candy chef. That year, I also learned how to order pralines from the annual River Street Sweets catalog and have them shipped to the house. Some things are better left to the professional confectioners!

pralines

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