There has been a great deal of discussion about what students need to learn for their futures. I recently learned of a quote from John Dewey (1859-1952), the education reformer, that summarizes it well: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”
I put the above mindmap together (see link) in a manner as to understand the variety of ways in which we continue to do the good work of ‘reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic’, just as we did during Dewey’s time, just as we do now, and just as we will always need to do. What I tried to express in this mindmap, however, is the variety of options in which we can now communicate, and therefore, demonstrate understanding. Today’s students have many more modes of sharing information and demonstrating knowledge and today’s teachers have the opportunity, challenge, and responsibility to use these various modes in order to prepare our students for their future.
Many of the tools mentioned ways in which I’ve had students research and share their ideas. I often use blogging and tools like Prezi or Voicethread to have students share and demonstrate their learning. For example, I’ve used polling to gather group information, but then had students share ideas through online discussions. Backchanneling can allow students to get involved in the group discussion or comment on a movie so everyone gets involved. I recently had students use infographics to present information about the technology company which they have been researching.
There are such a variety of ways to use Web 2.0 tools to help students communicate. The power of these tools is that they provide students with audience and relevance, as well as inclusion. Those students who would normally sit back in a class discussion are now not only given the opportunity but the impetus to get involved. This is powerful and changes the dynamics of the classroom. Who wouldn’t want to get onboard?