Teaching and Learning Paradigm Shifts

Teachers guide and facilitate learning based on their knowledge of both the content area and the craft of teaching. Within the classroom, they create meaningful learning experiences and they encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Teacher professionalism is the sum of what teachers do – both inside and outside the classroom to orchestrate student learning, contribute to the art and craft of teaching, and influence educational policymaking.

Videoconferencing, steaming video, podcasting, weblogs, e learning and multi-media integration enhances teacher professionalism to overcome the barriers of time and distance to collaborate on professional issues. Teachers can retrieve information from local and on-line databases to plan lessons and use computer-based multimedia to make more stimulating classroom presentations. Skepticism is not new to education. Emerging technologies are often viewed with fear and resistance. Just look at some of the history surrounding educational change.

Skepticism is not new to education. Emerging technologies are often viewed with fear and resistance. Just look at some of the history surrounding educational change.

“Students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend upon their slates, which are more expensive. What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write.”
– Teachers Conference, 1703

“Students today depend upon paper too much. They don’t know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”

– Teachers Association, 1815

“Students today depend upon store-bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink, they will be unable to write words or cipher until the next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern times.”
– Rural American Teacher, 1929

“Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away! The American virtues of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.”
– Federated Teacher, 1959

You can usually look at a group of students and their teacher and know when the educational process is working. The atmosphere’s just right — and that’s because good learning environments often have certain key elements in common.

Modes of Learning

These learning elements, alone and in combination, can be enhanced by technology. In some cases, technology even makes them happen as in developing interactive distance learning. weblogs, podcasting and e learning opportunities.

Active learning is a strategy for education in which the students take personal responsibility for how and what they learn.

When students are active learners, they become involved in learning rather than being audiences for instruction. Active learners create and produce as they learn. They’re engaged in work, try out new ideas, and gain understanding by constructing their knowledge from the world around them rather than acquiring it through memorization.

Teachers create an active learning situation by assigning a complex topic and helping the students to identify the resources they need to investigate it. Then the students, rather than the teacher, explore and organize the information to be learned. As the students work with the information and identify and interpret the main ideas, the teacher facilitates their learning. As one teacher stated, “I’m more like the guide on the side than the sage on the stage.”

Cooperative learning is a strategy for education in which students work in groups to achieve shared goals.

Teachers create cooperative learning environments by establishing groups, helping students to determine group goals and teaching students cooperative learning skills. Principles of cooperative learning include distributed leadership, heterogeneous interdependence and group autonomy.

Interdisciplinary learning is a strategy for tying together traditionally separated school subjects.

Teachers often work together to create the environment for interdisciplinary learning. At the high school level, teachers from different departments may collaborate on interdisciplinary projects or classes. For example, History and English teachers, or Science and Mathematics teachers, may team-teach courses. At the elementary level, teachers may take a thematic approach, which is inherently interdisciplinary. Individual classes, groups of classes or the entire school may do projects based on specific themes, and at any level, teachers may make instruction interdisciplinary by focusing two or more traditional subject areas on a real-world problem.

Individualized learning is a strategy for meeting the diverse needs and learning styles of students.

Students learn in different ways, at different speeds and at different times. Some students learn easily by reading, some by listening and watching, and some by hands-on experience. Some students may be visual learners in one area and auditory learners in another. In addition, developmental issues and preferences affect how – and how well – students learn.

Multi-Media Integration

The incorporation of multi-media into teaching and learning has become one of the most practical ways to emphasize the lessons that are being conveyed and for students to be able to actualize and process information. Multimedia utilizes equipment such as: videoconferencing, digital cameras, digital videocameras, scanners, laser printers, laptops, whiteboards, streaming video, document cameras, audio podcasts and web sites.

Often times, multiple screens or monitors are used in multi-media learning studios. Students can incorporate a video clip into a power point presentation or stream that same video to the desktop or classroom monitor. A student can put any text on the document camera to emphasize his or her concept and then return to the class or instructor camera seamlessly, making the technology appear invisible.

Summary

In the past, schools have been places where people in authority decided what would be taught, at what age, and in what sequence. The new technologies provide students access to information that was once under the control of teachers. Interactive Distance Learning instills an excitement and enthusiasm to engage learners in sharing knowledge and experiences while at the same time encompassing unique content and guest lecturers into classrooms and for the professional development of educators.

For learning to be optimally effective, it should not be hindered by the often artificial barriers that have been created around it. Media plays an important role in breaking down such barriers. The development of information and communication technologies, particularly interactive distance learning, streaming video, and podcasting are some of the conditioning factors of the emergence of the knowledge society. Education in this 21st century means maintaining high standards, integrating technology into curriculum, alternative forms of assessment and better professional preparation.

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