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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Can technology transform and strengthen learning?

I started a new job this fall as a department chair and teacher in a suburban Connecticut high school. Along with that assignment, I inherited three courses in our Digital Academy. The students who participate in the academy have a good command of infusing an array of technologies to support their learning. The district encourages BYOT (bring your own technology). This much debated topic seems to work well here.

The approach is referred to as Blended Learning. Blended learning is a philosophy and style of teaching that aims to improve the acquisition of knowledge through integrating technology with the curriculum. It takes the learners on a journey outside of the school's concrete walls to expand their world. It connects students in new ways and opens diverse perspectives to broaden their experiences. One of my students who is working on her senior project has a sister studying in Madrid. The siblings have a designated time to video-chat each week. I allow this to happen in school with one condition. The sisters must conduct part of their discussion in Spanish in the Spanish II classroom . The sister in Madrid often has her Spanish friends interact and chat as well. This would be difficult to replicate without technology.

This fall has been filled with new learning for me, most of it lead by the students. They share shortcuts, websites, and alternate technologies that help them in the courses. This is an exciting year.

I subscribe to many educational blogs and networks, most of them are authored by teachers. To get alternative points of view, I asked my students to share their thoughts, perspectives and insights on technology and how it applies to their learning-in school and out. They are the ones driving how educators develop innovative pedagogies and synthesize new tools for the classroom.

Check back for their responses.