Over the last year I have been really interested in 21st Century learning. I have spent a significant amount of time trying to get my head around what it looks like. I know it can/will/should? incorporate technology, but the more I think about it, the more I think it is about process. It is about collaborating, discussing, making learning relevant. I was sent this link today http://learnnowbc.ca/safetycentre/flashmob.aspx. To me this is the best example of what 21st Century learning is about. These kids collaborated, mentored, discussed, were committed to a cause and the outcome was truly inspiring. I obviously didn’t attend any of their practices (how do you practice for a flash mob?), but I bet you the kids were fully engaged and on task…with no adults around.
My guess is that they also learned a bunch. They learned that they could make a difference; they learned it is great to be different. They learned that collaborating can be truly inspirational. I don’t know any of these kids, but I bet if you asked them or their teachers, after being a part of this event, they are more willing to take a stand against all forms of discrimination.
Did they use technology, sure some. They probably connected on Facebook or some other social media site. They likely used an Ipod to play the music and maybe got some dance moves from YouTube, but the learning had nothing to do with technology and everything to do with collaboration, communication and leadership. Technology was just one of the many tools they used.
Too often 21st century learning comes down to a discussion about technology. Don’t get me wrong, technology is an integral part of the discussion, but it is not whole discussion. Technology used poorly just reinforces poor pedagogy. If I have an interactive whiteboard and create a cool PowerPoint then stand at the front of the class and deliver a lecture I am merely using technology to reinforce “old school” practices. I control the content and I am telling the students what they need to learn.
I am still working on what personalized learning looks like, but the more I think about it, the more I know it is the students who are driving the bus, not me.