When tech teaches, what do teachers do?

8/4/2014 12:00:00 AM
When I talk to students these days they tell me when they want to learn something they're interested in, it usually is not teachers or parents they turn to. It’s Google, YouTube, or to others they find online (aka their PLN) who engage in their activities of interest.
These kids aren’t just playing on the computer either. They mean serious business. Teen Jack Andraka turned to Google when doing his research that led to his discovery of a new screening for pancreatic cancer. Teens like Courtney Gressman and Alex Laubscher are building networks using social media to pursue their passions and do work that matters to them and others.
Not only does access to the internet provide limitless access to resources but tools like the iPad (or other tablets) also change with the needs of the user. One device can transform into a piano, drawing canvas, book, publishing press, or whatever a student wants it to be... on demand.

This has come up in my world recently when a parent confess to me that she was unsure of her ability to support her child's learning away from school. It was easy to put her mind at. We simply discussed what her child wants to learn, and then determine available resources for learning.  

To follow is a possible curriculum via tablet, customized to one student’s passions and abilities:
Does your child want to learn to read? There are great research-proven apps out there like Footsteps 2 Brilliance.  The books are interactive and give children instant feedback on their reading progress.  They’re also smart, increasing with complexity as your child masters basic reading skills.  

Does your child love writing, let them create their own self-illustrated books which they can publish and share with an audience using an app like StoryKit.

Give your child a primer on how gravity and momentum affect objects in motion with Angry Birds Space. A great feature of this version of Angry Birds is a link to a NASA website, a rich resource with educational links and videos about gravity and the International Space Station.

Music, Art, Geography
Want to help your child learn piano? The tablet can become a piano accompanied with a tutor with an app like Learn Piano on the iPad or Piano Teacher on Android.

Does your child love art? Great. There are numerous high-quality and inexpensive apps to choose from. Here’s a list of five from LifeHacker. Once creations are made they can be shared with, viewed, and discussed with a global community.

One of the popular apps for children also helps them learn state capitals, shapes, geographic locations, flags and more, while touching, moving and dropping animated states into their correct location. Stack the States is a $0.99 app that will have students dazzling their teachers and parents with their geographic knowledge in no time.

There is no end to what children can learn with technology. The beauty of the device is that it’s always there ready to teach more and provide constant feedback. It's also intuitive. "No teacher required" to start using these resources. 
When it is clear that devices can provide a 1:1 ratio for students to teaching resources (even tutors), the role of the teacher shifts. Now that teachers no longer have to be responsible for teaching students everything, what should they be responsible for?

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.


Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.
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