Presented as a weekly series by Salvatore Cammarata, Ed.D., Educational Advisor to G7 Research
Educational researchers, particularly during the past decade, have issued a clarion call for our schools to teach children how to think, not just how to acquire knowledge. The auditory and visual learning styles of students that most of us teach to have been drastically affected, but in a good way, by available and emergent technologies. Within the affective realm of the third branch of the other three Rs—rigor, relevance, and relationships—teachers and parents face a new and different challenge as they endeavor to engage digital-age learners on an emotional level. Kathleen Taylor, author of a book called Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain, contends: “We’re evolved to be face-to-face creatures. We developed to have constant feedback from others, telling us if it was okay to be saying what we’re saying. On the Internet, you get nothing, no body language, no gesture.”
Digital-age learners in the 21st century are accustomed to receiving information from high-definition television and other high-tech devices in media that are engaging, colorful, loud, and entertaining; feedback, gratification, and the motivation to continue, persist, and maintain focus are all compelling and immediate. Digital, technology-assisted instruction allows teachers to customize and individualize their curricula and, with meaningful formative and summative assessment data reports from digital programs, enrich and remediate subject-matter content. This is particularly the case with the study of literacy, mathematics, and science, subsequently augmenting the learning experience. Teachers must present programs that motivate and engage students with interactive media to maintain their attention and focus during the completion of scope, sequence, and scaffolding for each of the content areas.
In order to reach and teach all learners and engage them on all levels, it is necessary to differentiate instruction within a standards-based classroom. Furthermore, it is imperative to recognize that technology-assisted teaching and digital learning play a vital role in meeting that challenge. Teachers must stand, deliver, and facilitate learning for students who have been raised on new media technologies and who are turned off quickly by fill-in-the-blank worksheets and lectures (Collins & Halverson, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology). This generation of learners, going as far back as 2000, is among the most tech-savvy digital-age learners we have seen. Classroom management, all instruction, learning centers, visual media, and tactile/kinesthetic activities must respond to the rewired brains and thought processes of today’s children; this mission is imperative.
Next week: More implications for teaching and learning from the research of Collins and Halverson.
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