Saturday, February 8, 2014

How Can Busy Teachers Learn Next-Gen Skills?

Most of today’s classroom teachers are digital immigrants, who need to not only learn the latest technologies but also help students learn skills for workplaces that don’t yet exist. This imperative, compounded by the advanced skills of their digital native students, creates a daunting task for the best of teachers.

Most teachers work very hard to keep up with today’s technology and related jargon, with mixed success. For example, a teacher at my son’s school walked around telling the students she had been twerking all day because she thought the term meant texting and working! It made perfect sense to her and brought great amusement to all of her students. However, it is a perfect example of the challenges that teachers face when trying to keep up.

Learning Next-Gen Skills

So, how do teachers help students develop modern learning skills? Start with the basics. Technology is not a replacement for learning core information. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are still essential; technology should be used as a tool for teaching these areas. Critical thinking, communication, and creativity stem from learning in these areas and should not be neglected.
Special focus should be put on information literacy, media skills, and technology skills. Students need to be taught to analyze information sources, determine authenticity, and synthesize information presented, all of which require the ability to read and write critically. They also need to be able to navigate information and present information through a variety of media and technology tools and formats.

Teachers teach skills that don’t yet exist through the development of critical and analytical thinking skills. Students must be able to problem- solve in order to access information and think through applications of that information that they have never encountered.

If anything, technology has created a greater need for understanding basic information in order to adapt to unforeseeable situations. What an exciting time to teach!

There are a variety of resources available that provide information specifically to help develop the modern learner. Here are a few:

By accessing this information, and making a concerted effort, teachers and other school leaders can provide an environment where learners thrive and succeed, today and throughout their lifetime.

Author: Dr. Amy Burkman – Senior Manager of Assessment & Accreditation, School of Education, American Public University System

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