Learning technologies change student-teacher interactions in several ways, but there’s one specifically that really stands out and makes the most difference in our classrooms. Technology has an especially strong effect in the 1:1 classroom, since the students are so in touch with their technology.
Tony Wagner, the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, and the founder and co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than a decade, recently talked about this in his article ’Graduating All Students Innovation Ready‘.
“Knowledge today is a free commodity and growing exponentially. Opportunities for learning are ubiquitous and accessible on every Internet-connected device, students who know more than others no longer have a competitive advantage.”
One could argue that this not only applies to students, but is equally pertinent to teachers. At one time, teachers were considered the “content experts” in the classroom. They easily possessed more factual knowledge than a student on any given day. However, in a classroom where every student has access to the internet via a cell phone or laptop, this is no longer the case. Teachers are well aware that much of the knowledge they acquired from years of college and thousands of dollars in student loans can now be “Googled” by their students in less than 1 second.
The result of this is that it’s no longer about what students know, it’s about what they do with what they know, and how they do it. The role of the teacher is evolving from having students answer every question, to teaching them how to question every answer.
The internet is an amazing source of information, but it obviously does not stop there. We must also teach students to find and identify reliable and valid sources of information. Then teach them how to use this information to think critically, solve problems, and make decisions. It’s crucial that we move students from consumers of information, to creators of information. This is where the role of the teacher currently lies – Not as the content expert in the room as in days of yore, but as the guide, mentor, and facilitator. We need to teach them to process and use the information that they have at their fingertips.
“If we teach today, as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” -John Dewy