The Information Age

The Internet and Education

The Information Highway

For centuries, the Silk Route connected people from Asia to Europe. Along these routes, people traded goods, learned about other cultures and shared ideas. In the present day, we are living in this Information Age where people are constantly connected to each other through the Internet and social media. Just about anything can be looked up, learned or bought online. Just as the Silk Route encouraged communication, Web 2.0 has introduced us to new ways of communicating.

21st Century Learning

Human evolution has not only influenced developments in technology, but has impacted different aspects in our lives. Impacts include learning to create innovations that aid our everyday life as well as generating new techniques in the way we educate others. As new technologies and innovations are introduced, including Facebook and Twitter, they clearly define how the 21st Century is modernizing. Because of this, these modernized tools have also entered classrooms, where technology is used to show a visual representation of concepts. For example, students utilize educational technologies such as interactive boards to solve problems and analyze information, thus creating a more hands on approach to learning. The term 21st Century Learning is used to define how 21st Century skills are being infused into education, including components of social media. As educational techniques constantly evolve, we will soon realize that the 21st Century was the start as to where modernization into the educational world began.
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Web 2.0

The Internet is a world-wide broadcasting tool, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location (Internet Society, 2014). It is changing to support people in their need for constant connectivity. Web 2.0 is open, it is connected through hyperlinks, and it lets learners pursue connections across multiple lines of thought (Alexander, 2008, p. 156). Alexander (2008) defined Web 2.0 as “a way of creating web pages focusing on micro-content and social connections between people. It also exemplifies that digital content can be copied, moved, altered, remixed, and linked, based on the needs, interests, and abilities of users (p. 151)”. Social media is driving this constant need to be connected and “in-the-know” with the latest news and up-to-date with the latest technology.
A Brief History of the Internet- Animated Documentary

Popular Social Media

What does this mean for education?

It is out with the old industrial education model and in with the new, more connected model of learning. It is important that our students have the skills to be successful in a constantly evolving world and "they need to be involved in real, relevant experiences that recognize how they learn" (Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, 2012, p. 2). Students have "developed what is called a 'cultural brain' – one defined by the ability to process massive amounts of, primarily, visual and textual information at rapid speed" (Frank Kelly, 2008).


The Partnership for 21st Century Skills suggests that “education adapts learning methods to meet the demands of the 21st Century.” I have chosen a couple models for incorporating technology into classrooms and teaching students how to be 21st Century learners:


The Flipped Classroom Model

The core idea is to flip the common instructional approach and make the instructional portion of class accessible from home and in advance of class. Students have online access to video lectures, PowerPoint presentations and other educational tools, thus allowing for the "class to become the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource—time" (Tucker, 2012).


Blended Learning Approach

Blended learning combines multiple modes of information delivery and is designed to promote learning and application-learned behaviour. It is generally considered to be a "mix of traditional instructor-led training, synchronous online conferencing or training, asynchronous self-paced study, and structured training" (Singh, 2003, p. 51).


Inside-Out Learning Model

The goal of the model is authentic self-knowledge, diverse local and global interdependence, adaptive critical thinking, and adaptive media literacy (Heick, 2012). Teachers are curators of resources and learning tools in order to promote a healthy learning environment. It's an interesting model as it promotes project-based learning, play, gamification and mentoring. The model encourages students to be knowledge-makers and classrooms to be think-tanks. It also requires students to reflect on their own learning and to participate in local community projects.


Young people are reading and writing (typing) more as they participate online and educators need to present students with opportunities to engage ideas in more compelling ways. "As our students enter the workforce, the ability to deal with complex and often ambiguous information will be more important than simply knowing a lot of facts or having an accumulation of knowledge (Frand, 2000, p. 17)". Learning in the 21st Century is about fostering online and classroom communities. It is about student-centered learning environments.

Final Thoughts

Teachers facilitate the learning process by being student-centered. It is important to be aware and sympathetic towards students’ backgrounds and their various relationships within the class. Bruner (1985) explains that the teacher "serves the learner as a vicarious form of consciousness until he (or she) is able to master his own action through his (or her) own consciousness and control" (p. 24). It is also important to incorporate traditions and different learning strategies because every student is unique with his/her own learning styles. When a student becomes aware of what he/she is capable of, then that student is well on his/her way to success. A teacher’s role is to challenge students with respect to curricular material and to support them when they are having difficulty. The underlying assumption is that students learn through assistance, resulting in subsequent development that will enable them to independently interpret and solve such problems later (Vygotsky, 1986, p. 188; Norton & d’Ambrosio, 2008, p. 221).

References

All images are sourced through creativecommons.org


Alexander, B. (2008) Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies, Theory Into Practice, 47:2, 150-160, DOI: 10.1080/00405840801992371


Bruner, J. (1985). Vygotsky: A historical and conceptual perspective, In J. V. Werstch (Ed.), Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskian perspectives (pp. 21-34). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.


Frand, J. L. (2000). The information age mindset: Changes in students and implications for higher education. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0051.pdf


Frank Kelly, T. M. (2008). Teaching the Digital Generation. Nelson Education.


Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. (2012). Education for the 21st century: Here, now and into the future. Retrieved July 26, 2012 from http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/strategic-directions-education-in-hwdsb-full-report.pdf


Heick, T. (2012, November 20). The Inside-Out School: A 21st Century Learning Model. TeachThought. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/inside-out-school-21st-century-learning-model/


Internet Society. (2014). Brief history of the Internet. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/what-internet/history-internet/brief-history-internet


Norton, A., & D'Ambrosio, B. S. (2008). ZPC and ZPD: Zones of teaching and learning. Journal for research in mathematics education, 220-246.


Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2009). Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from Partnership for 21st Century Skills

www.21stcenturyskills.org


Project Happening (2013, Jun 22). A brief history of the Internet-Animated documentary [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVTUi6wWN3M


Singh, H. (2003). Building effective blended learning programs. Educational Technology, 43(6), 51-54.


Tucker, B. (2012). The flipped classroom: Online instruction at home frees class time for learning. Education Next, 82-83.


Vygotsky, L. (1986) Thought and language (A. Kozulin, Ed.). Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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This smore was made in partial fulfillment of ETEC 540.


Charlotte Paterson