At the beginning of this course, there were two essential questions that were meant to guide our learning in this class. Those two essential questions were, 1) What do we mean by the 21st Century Classroom, and 2) How do we apply technology tools in ways so that we can more easily achieve meaningful teaching and learning in the 21st Century?
I am going to attempt to answer these questions based off my understanding of the class as a whole. For me, these two questions rely upon each other. Without the use of technology, a classroom cannot be defined as being 21st century. Technology is so rampant in our, and our students, everyday lives. It is sad to say, but the majority of us could not go an entire day without using technology. As a result of a growth in technology, everything is changing. This change includes education, and both the way we teach, and the way we learn. For students, and even us, access to information is readily available with the click of a button. Students no longer need a teacher to lecture on and on about the literary elements expressed within novels, they can access this information through their laptops by watching videos or reading blogs.
A 21st century classroom is an environment in which technology aids in the learning process. It is important to note that the technology does not do the work for the student. Rather, the student is able to utilize the tools available to help them draw conclusions and facilitate their learning experience. The focus of a 21st century classroom is on the student’s ability to use this technology, but this does not mean that the educator loses importance. As educators, we need to make this technology available to our students. We need to teach them, from day one, how to properly use these tools to their advantage. Many teachers argue that their districts do not have the funding to supply technology to all of their students. It is important for 21st century educators to understand that it is not about the amount of technology available, but rather the use of technology. Teachers decide, that because they only have four available computers, they should not use them in their lessons. This thought process only deters the ability of the students to learn .Rather than shunning technology, this teacher could use groups to allow time on the computers. It is not about availability, it is about usage!
After overcoming initial concerns regarding use of technology in the classroom, teachers can apply models such as SAMR and Webb’s DoK to maintain meaningful learning. The SAMR model allows educators to implement technology within their lessons in order to increase collaboration in learning. As the use of technology is increasing, teachers can then apply Webb’s Depth of Knowledge levels to assess student understanding and learning. As I mentioned above, just because students are using the technology to learn, it does not mean that the technology is doing the learning for them. It is up to educators to create effective interaction between students and technology. This is done by applying the depth of knowledge levels. If educators apply this model effectively within their classrooms, then meaningful learning can occur within their students minds.
So, to sum up all my ramblings, a 21st century classroom places an emphasis on the interaction of, not only students and technology, but students and teachers as well. Teachers must demonstrate effective use of this technology within the classroom. From here, teachers are able to implement technology using the SAMR model and Webb’s DoK to maintain meaningful learning experiences.