A Decade of Evolution in the Classroom

Written by Dreamscape

Here is our fourth installment of the Squiggle Park Teacher Team blogs. This one is posted by literacy assessment specialist David Dickerman. David works at the Educational Testing Service in the Teacher Licensure and Certification division. In this role he is required to stay current on current both content and best practices while using innovative technology to produce fair and valid certification exams.

To many of us, 10 years does not seem like that long ago.  Unfortunately, time passes more quickly than we may like to admit and gradual changes often appear like drastic leaps in retrospect. To put it in perspective, in 2006 the RAZR flip phone was all the rage, Borat and his accent were infiltrating our lives, and Twitter was born.  Education is not protected from these cultural, ideological, and technological shifts and the industry has taken many steps to not only to keep up, but also embrace them.

Until recent years, classrooms have been characterized as an isolated space where learning takes place by students from teachers.  In addition to guests like parents or other teachers now being more welcome to facilitate communication between the home and other content areas, the classroom now extends far beyond brick and mortar locations.  Technology has allowed the classroom to go virtual, which has opened up opportunities for different types of learning activities and instruction.  Instead of reading about NASA, students can take a virtual tour of a space shuttle or Skype with an actual astronaut.

Computer labs used to be the most fun part of the day.  After slowly creating an electronic version of a scribbled rough draft, students often had time to play learning games and respond to emails.  I personally have many memories of my complicated relationship with the LogoWriter turtle.  These dedicated times and rooms may be going the way of video rental stores.  

Integration is Now the Goal

It is becoming common place for schools to provide students with personal laptops or tablets not only for learning activities, but also to house textbooks.  Every day more textbooks are becoming available in this fashion.  Gone are the days of premature back problems due to carrying multiple books in one backpack slung over one shoulder (another change – 2 shoulders is apparently cool again)!  

While I believe some aspects of technology limit human interaction, the classroom has been integrating blended learning and moving towards more collaboration in general.  Connecting online allows for immediate consultation and feedback from both peers and teachers. There are less individual desks and more group tables.  In fact, learning spaces are constantly evolving as stations and individualized learning becomes more and more popular.  Many members of the educational community have realized that flexible workspaces promote comfort and flexibility, which in turn, leads to higher performance.  Learning styles are no longer a theory, and teachers acknowledge that whether it is kinestheic, visual, or something else, everyone learns differently. A new approach to learning and technology has allowed us to accommodate these styles while still working as a whole (Watch this great video about blended learning).

Education is something that should be clear cut but it’s difficult to nail down in the rapidly changing world we live in. At it’s root, education is about transferring knowledge through generations, but how do we reconcile what is important for our children to know and the best way for them to learn to be prepared for the future? The concern now for educators is to figure out how to best use this technology as a support for their instruction rather than taking the place of instruction – to find a way to not let the tail wag the dog as they say. As a father and educator, I choose to embrace the future of technology in learning. I am optimistic about the direction in which education is heading and cannot wait to see what another 10 years will bring to the classroom.  

Join us Thursdays at 9:00pm EST for our teacher Twitter chat at @SquiggleParkEDU


comments for this post are closed