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Monday, September 5, 2011

Does 21st Century Learning Require Computers?

The New York Times shook up the education technology folks this past weekend with a story about schools spending lots of money on technology and not getting any improved results. The surprise to me is that anyone would think spending money on technology instead of a qualified teacher would produce better results. The 21st Century blog site has an interesting post on what is different about 21st Century Learning:

Which one describes your classroom or school?

20th Century Classrooms                                21st Century Classrooms

USA 1960’s typical classroom – teacher-centered, fragmented curriculum, students working in isolation, memorizing facts.

A San Francisco architectural firm establishes an alternative school providing internships for high school students.  A perfect example of real-life, relevant, project-based 21st century education.


Focus:  memorization of discrete facts
Focus:  what students Know, Can Do and Are Like after all the details are forgotten.

Lessons focus on the lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – knowledge, comprehension and application.
Learning is designed on upper levels of Blooms’ – synthesis, analysis and evaluation (and include lower levels as curriculum is designed down from the top.)


Passive learning
Active Learning

Learners work in isolation – classroom within 4 walls
Learners work collaboratively with classmates and others around the world – the Global Classroom

Teacher-centered:  teacher is center of attention and provider of information

Student-centered:  teacher is facilitator/coach
Little to no student freedom
Great deal of student freedom

“Discipline problems – educators do not trust students and vice versa.  No student motivation.
No “discipline problems” – students and teaches have mutually respectful relationship as co-learners; students are highly motivated.

Fragmented curriculum
Integrated and Interdisciplinary curriculum

Grades averaged
Grades based on what was learned

Low expectations
High expectations – “If it isn’t good it isn’t done.”  We expect, and ensure, that all students succeed in learning at high levels.  Some may go higher – we get out of their way to let them do that.

Teacher is judge.  No one else sees student work.
Self, Peer and Other assessments.  Public audience, authentic assessments.

Curriculum/School is irrelevant and meaningless to the students.
Curriculum is connected to students’ interests, experiences, talents and the real world.

Print is the primary vehicle of learning and assessment.
Performances, projects and multiple forms of media are used for learning and assessment

Diversity in students is ignored.
Curriculum and instruction address student diversity

Literacy is the 3 R’s – reading, writing and math
Multiple literacies of the 21st century – aligned to living and working in a globalized new millennium.

Factory model, based upon the needs of employers for the Industrial Age of the 19th century.  Scientific management. 21st century model
Driven by the NCLB and standardized testing mania. Driven by exploration, creativity and 21st century skills

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