Some people think “21st Century Learning” may just be a new badge for some very traditional ideas in education, or a fresh phrase for “technology in the classroom.” Certainly, technology has a place in the definition, as it is a powerful tool to facilitate students’ abilities to collaborate. But while technology offers unprecedented abilities to personalize education, that is only one component of the concept as a whole.
Q: What is the role of the teacher in supporting personalized learning for the 21st Century?
Dr. Parker and Joanne Robertson: Teachers have a central role in supporting four key pillars of learning for students: the development of knowledge, skills, self-esteem and a place in society. They can harness the power of student engagement to help students learn through groups and cooperatively. They can welcome and integrate the resources of the community in the learning opportunities they design. They can practice what we call “assessment for learning”, that is assessments need to begin by observation, letting the student lead knowing what the goal is, and providing the support they need to get there.
We may be seeing the greatest shift in philosophy at the Secondary level. Traditionally, teachers at the secondary level have focused on the transfer of content from teacher to student. 21st Century Secondary teachers provide the best options for information and skill development that they can to students. It’s a switch from being the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side”. They are the coach, they set baseline expectations and encourage students to “stretch” in critical thinkers. They help students see their progress and what they need to do next to achieve a goal. Emphasizing the process of learning, rather than the memorization of facts, is essential. For many of our educators, this is not new, but certainly the value placed on it is higher than ever before.
… to be continued