About 15 years ago, I was in the 6th grade and I remember a distinct conversation my teacher Mrs. Kormash was having with us. If we were standing in the room, I could take you to where I was sitting and where she was standing, talking about electronic books. Mrs. Kormash was sharing with us about how one day in the future we would be curling up in front of our fireplaces with computer screens instead of paper books. She expressed how she didn’t think that it would be same and that we might lose something with the advancing technology. I remember thinking, that sound cool–like something off of Star Trek. Flash forward 15 years. Now I’m a teacher, and most of my students’ textbooks are web-based. Technology has changed, but has learning?
Modern technology has given us the advantage of having a world of information at our finger tips. We can share information, search for the unknown, entertain ourselves and loads more; all on a device that fits in our pockets. With the advancements, learning has become more personalized and self-directed, but I think the basics of learning have remained the same. A question or topic is proposed, students read, research to find out information and make connections, the group discusses the information gathered and makes new connections, and the teacher assess the understanding of the students. Technology has shifted the method of learning to fit the new generations, but the basics of learning remains constant.
I know technology is going to continue to enhance learning as the future unfolds. Online learning communities, social networking, Youtube and Facebook are just the tip of the iceberg. The future is only limited by man’s imagination, and education will shift to reflect the values of these increasingly technological societies. To go off topics, all of this makes me think of Star Trek. My dad is a “Trekkie”, do I grew up watching the various Star Trek series. Starting back in the 1960s, man’s imaginations started building a vision of what society would be like centuries into the future. With this, they created scientific instruments and “modern” technologies. If you go back to the original series, almost all of the inventions (save the transporter) are part of everyday life now. So it makes me think about the technology I see in today’s sci-fi thrillers–will they be showing up in the next few decades?
Education is a mirror of societal values. And as societies become more global, more technological, I can only see the schools taking the same direction. Change can be a good thing, but we need to remember that just because something is new does not mean it is better. Technology can be a great asset to the class room. Online learning, cross-country communication, information at the touch of the button–all things that can enhance a classroom. As much as possible, I incorporate technology into the classroom but it is a delicate balance. Several of my teacher assessment surveys came back with student comments about the use of too much technology being used. Valid concerns have been raised about the balance of content vs. mastering a computer program. This is my learning curve. The core process of learning needs to remain constant, and methods and technology can be shifted to meet the needs of the classroom.