As 2009 came to a close a number of blog entries sprang up around the web, sharing stats on this and that, and proclaiming the best of this, and the best of that. I’ve been reading a number of them, and although I don’t pay much attention to the best of lists, (everyone has a different opinion), one particular blog entry stood out to me. Stats were given that really made me think about the implications in the use of technology as an integral part of the curriculum, not just as “one more thing to do,” or even as one more way to teach something.
Consider the facts below, and what they might mean for the world in which today’s elementary students will live when they reach adulthood.
1. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube.
Did you know it’s now unblocked in PCS, and has a wealth of useful/educational videos and tutorials for both teachers and students? Try it! Go put in a math term, or a term like phonics, see what results come up for you. Think about how you can use YouTube in the course of your teaching. Once you get comfortable with using Google Sites for your new web pages, you could even embed videos right onto your web page!
2. This year Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers, and 96% of them have joined a social network.
These are, or will be, the parents of our elementary students. They are web savvy, and use it as a tool for communication and collaboration. They will, undoubtedly, expect their children to use technology on a regular basis in school, and for it to be an integral part of their learning.
3. 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum.
What will that be by the time today’s elementary students graduate from high school? Learning for today’s students can take place anytime, anywhere. It does not have to be within the confines of 4 walls.
A listing of the top 100 tools for learning (not specifying learner characteristics, such as age) in 2009 shows the following top 12:
2. Delicious – Online social bookmarking
4. Google Reader (RSS Feeder – way of bringing new information to you, rather than you going to find the new information)
5. Google Docs
6. WordPress (a blogging tool)
7. SlideShare (online posting of PowerPoint and Keynote type presentations)
8. Google Search
9/10. tie: Audacity (sound recording and editing, similar to GarageBand) and Firefox (browser)
11/12 tie: Ning (social networking, customized for targeted groups) and Skype (free tool for video/voice conferencing) - Check out this Ning just for elementary teachers: Elementary Teachers’ Network.
Some tools for learning that didn’t make the list in the previous two years, and skyrocketed onto the list this year include:
Two are so new they didn’t even make the list, but are quickly gaining notoriety among instructional technology professionals around the world:
So what does this really boil down to? Five things: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creation, and Online.
This year’s Kindergarten class is the class of 2022. Think back to when this year’s high school graduating class was in Kindergarten. It was 1998. Not one of the tools listed above existed back then. Now consider the implications for learning and our kindergarteners, the class of 2022. We already know that we’re preparing our students for a world that doesn’t yet exist, but we have to remember that the world in which this year’s graduating class entered Kindergarten no longer exists. It is therefore essential that while we teach students the critical content in our curriculum, we also include 21st century learning opportunities with technology. I believe that we need to work together to create regular opportunities for them to communicate, collaborate, and create, while using critical thinking skills… both offline AND online. These are some of the 21st century skills you read and hear about, and that’s the world in which our students live.
If you’re techie, and ready to move beyond the basics, I invite you to join me in a special PD series this spring (Plainville teachers only), Web 2.0 is Elementary. Together we’ll examine some of the more unique 21st century tools such as Animoto, Glogster, and PrimaryPad. We’ll talk about the feasibility of their realistic use in the classroom. When we decide that we like a tool, we’ll brainstorm ways to use it within the curriculum, and write a sample lesson or two. This PD series will be more relaxed, as we work together to examine the tools, learn from each other, and develop ideas to share with colleagues. Look for dates and times to be announced in email.
If you’re ready to learn about more common Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis, and how they can be used to build 21st century learning opportunities within the curriculum, online PD is just beginning to be developed for you. This will allow you to learn at your own pace, anytime, anywhere. You’ll hear more about this towards the end of the school year.
Together we can create meaningful technology experiences for our students that include 21st century skills and use web 2.0 tools, preparing them for their future!
(Can you spot Tom Kennedy, Instructional Tech. Specialist for MSP and PHS, in this video?)