Ed Tech Leadership Blog 1: Reformers

Ed Tech Leadership Blog #1: Reformers – Mind Map

Today’s educational model faces a very real issue in the wake of technological advances.  At face value, we must be able to adapt our instructional approaches to incorporate the effective use of technologies to prepare students for computer literacy in real world applications beyond the classroom setting.  However, we must also be aware of the evolving nature in which these advances feed upon themselves, and create an ongoing race to keep up with further advances.  As Sir Ken Robinson points out, we are currently preparing our young people for a world in present tense that will pose substantially different challenges by the time they reach adulthood.  Further, emphasis upon subjects such as science and math encourage thinking within a finite set of rules, discouraging creative thinking and self-expression that are vital skills within the adult world.

I found Dan Pink’s views to highlight this theory through the illustration of the candle problem intriguing.  The solution to the candle problem required a heightened awareness through creative thinking, in which many people struggled to find.  Subjects also showed poorer results when motivated through extrinsic factors, or incentives, rather when driven through intrinsic motivation or sense of accomplishment.   When we can approach a given problem in personal terms, applying real-world context, we are much more apt to find a meaningful solution through creative thinking.  A sound methodological approach, rooted in disciplines of science and math, is only the beginning to problem solving.  We must also be able to adapt and change course as necessary to find alternative solutions, marrying the skills of creative and critical thinking into a singular ultimate goal.  As adults, we will rarely, if ever, be presented with a real-world problem that can easily be placed within a controlled sterile laboratory environment.  Rhetorically, why should we teach our youth solely within the very sterile environment that is most often impractical in a real world setting?

I believe the majority of true learning occurs through a practical, hands-on approach.  Largely, this approach becomes impractical in a traditional formalized classroom setting due to resource constraints for one-on-one instruction.  Dave Eggers presented a fascinating solution in this same vein of thought with the creation of learning centers using volunteers in after-school programs to serve as mentors for students as they explore their own creative writing skills.  This creative thinking creates an environment that fosters relationships while also incorporating the use of computers, serving as a technological hub for each community.  When a student feels a genuine connection with an instructor / mentor, learning becomes real and practical experience rather than simply completing tasks for a favorable grade.  Gever Tully echoes this same philosophy through his utilization of hands-on creative learning centers.  While objective and fact-based learning plays a fundamental role, his learning center setting serves as a facet towards exploration of how and why things work, rather than the presentation of facts and theories, commonplace in the formal classroom setting.  I agree with Tully’s suggestion for allowing our children to explore their world, although I don’t necessarily advocate allowing children to play with fire, giving freedom to explore the “how” and “why” leads to practical understanding rather than the regurgitation of scientific principles to assess one’s depth of knowledge.

The implementation of technology within the curriculum of education today serves as both a problem and a solution for today’s educators.  Aside from the necessary funding to secure these resources, we must also be willing to embrace the myriad of possibilities available through its use to incorporate creative thinking and problem solving.  This also lends itself to address practical learning in an evolving digital age.  More recently, coding has become increasingly popular in elementary schools, allowing students to apply basic level computer programming in developing games and software based upon a step-wise progression of problem solving to create this digital environment.  This application can then be transferred towards further technological advances in real world applications of sophisticated software and app development, illustrated by Krish Mehra in his TED talk at Kent State in 2017.  This futuristic educational model will allow students to explore career pathways that have yet to be identified.  Similarly, emerging technologies addressed by AJ+ could also lead to educational reform including 3D printing, Virtual Reality, Cloud Computing, Biometrics, and Holograms.  Each of which serves as a vast platform for improved instructional opportunities in technology based content and practical learning applications.  Undoubtedly, we live in a technological age that feeds upon itself and is ever advancing.  It is our duty as educators to not only teach our students technology literacy, but empower them with creative thinking skills to prepare them for whatever the future may hold.

References

AJ+. (2015, September). 5 Technologies that will change classroom education [Video file].  Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loFL5gT_m8I&feature=youtu.be

Eggers, D. (2008, February). My wish: once upon a school [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/dave_eggers_makes_his_ted_prize_wish_once_upon_a_school

Mehra, K. (2017, March). Coding: By a kid for kids [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOsdfRbrNdk

Pink, D. (2009, July). The puzzle of motivation [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation?language=en

Robinson, K. (2006, February). Do schools kill creativity? [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

Robinson, K. (2010, February). Bring on the learning revolution [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution

Tulley, G. (2007, March). 5 dangerous things you should let your kid do [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids

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