The incredible amount of resources available on the Internet today allow students access to connect to information wherever and whenever they want to. Students are no longer just consumers of content, they are now active users, creators, and publishers of content. Young people are learning in informal, nontraditional ways everyday. They aren’t afraid to explore new technologies, and they often find creative ways to use technology to their advantage. Educators and parents may be surprised to find out what children today actually know about using technology these days…
As a result, what and how we teach needs to be adjusted. So much of what we do today in education pushes students to memorize facts. How will those facts help them in the context of the real-world? Schools should be looking more closely at ways for students to leverage the knowledge and technology they know, love, and use everyday to solve real-world problems. Isn’t that why students will need all those 21st century skills we love to talk to about? We should take the time to show students how other individuals (like those behind charity: water) are successfully combining innovative ideas with 21st century technology skills to help make the world a better place.
“We built a website… we shared stories… we got help online from Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Twitter… we have helped almost a million people…”
Our students might just hold the future solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. I am always trying to think about how to best provide students with the appropriate and authentic tools and strategies that they will need to be successful, independent thinking and contributing members of a global community. How can we guide students’ desire to use new and innovative technologies in a positive and meaningful way? Why not consider the following assignment from the movie Pay It Forward: “Think of an idea to change our world- and put it into action.”
“What does the world mean to you? …What does the world expect of you? …You take the things you don’t like about this world and you flip them upside down.”
Take a minute to stop and think about all the research, knowledge, and tools students would need to do this type of assignment today. Many schools are already trying this approach and experiencing great success. The concept of challenge based learning, a process where students are challenged with taking action and making a difference in their own community, is becoming more and more prevalent in public education these days. When individuals are given the opportunity and resources to improve or change something that is important to them, it is amazing what kind of impact it can have on the world.
Google is absolutely correct: “the web is what you make of it.”
What will we teach students to make of the web?