It’s been a fascinating summer with a couple of defining moments that have deepened my understanding about my passion: How to use technology to support learning (both online and face-to-face).
At BLC2011, Angela Maiers eloquently delivered a thought provoking session on Passion-Driven Learning. Her message ‘by the time students reach secondary education, enthusiasm, engagement, and love of learning is at an all-time low’. So what can we do about it? Her response: Passion-Driven Learning!
I was so inspired I had to read her book ‘The Passion-Driven Classroom‘ in which she advocates that engagement is the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ of learning, which will improve student learning. She recognizes we can increase student engagement by changing the ‘what’ with the use of technology and the ‘where’ by changing the learning environment, for example with blended learning. However, when we add the ‘who’ into the mix, when we add passion, how we learn is impacted and influenced much more than by changing the content and the environment. She continues ‘the truly defining moments in learning are those that occur on the inside, making WHO we are the ultimate contributor to learning success’. (Heidi Hayes-Jacob selected Angela’s book for the Curriculum21 Summer Book Club).
This made me think. People around me continually profess the reason we must use technology is to engage our students, and I feel uneasy when I hear that statement. I do see technology as a means to support student engagement, but I think if that is what we focus on, we are missing a huge opportunity to transform teaching and learning. I’m concerned that we will simply change the content by making it more interactive. We will succeed in making learning more fun, and students, teachers and administrators will feel good. However, the old, traditional instructional model will remain largely untouched.
I’ve seen this happen with teachers creating blended learning units. It is not natural for them to reconsider how they teach when designing their online courses. It is more natural simply to keep doing what they have always done and transfer this online. They have to be explicitly taught how to transfer good face-to-face teaching practices, such as including the principles of UDL and differentiated learning into the online environment.
My concern about people’s reliance on technology being the answer to engaging our students is that unless it is embedded thoughtfully into the curriculum with professional development based on how to redesign lessons to include the 21st century skills and habits of mind within a passion-driven classroom, we will lose out on the greatest opportunity to transform teaching and learning in decades.
Well I’ve done it! I’ve put my thoughts out there (this is my first posting). I’d really appreciate your comments on this topic. What do you think? How do we leverage technology to support the transformation of teaching and learning and not miss the opportunity?