I have had the pleasure this year of working with a team of high school teachers who are participating in a grant to transform teaching and learning through the use of Web 2.0 tools in their classrooms. We are about halfway through the year and I have to say that it has really been a great experience.
I was at their school the other day, speaking with a couple of the teachers about how things were going and what I could do to support their efforts. I had discussions with two of the teachers about why it is difficult to get teachers to adopt technology into their classrooms or integrate it into instruction. As we talked about it, the point cam up that for technology to impact the classroom today – the teacher has to be using a student-centered rather than a teacher-centered approach. In other words, if a teacher is using a “telling” or presentation style of teaching; technology can make the presentation flashier – but it will not help to engage the student or to make the student more of an active learner.
However, if the teacher is using a student-centered approach then technology can greatly enhance both teaching and learning. In a student-centered classroom, students are expected to drive much of their own learning in lessons that rely on a constructivist approach as students learn by building new knowledge and concepts on top of already existing knowledge and concepts. In these types of classrooms, teachers will see Web 2.0 tools as making their job more effective and more efficient. Why else would we adopt technology?
So after these conversations and these ideas, you can imagine how pleasant I found this article by Marc Prensky. Yes, the same Marc Prensky who wrote about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. This article was called The Role of Technology in the Teaching and the Classroom and was first published in Educational Technology, Nov-Dec 2008.
In this article, which is over 4 years old, Prensky talks about the same phenomenon that the teachers and I discussed. Prensky spells out explicitly what role he believes technology should play in education – “The role of technology in our classrooms is to support the new teaching paradigm.” What new teaching paradigm you might ask? The new paradigm of a student-centered versus a teacher-centered classroom.