After reflecting on discussions and readings from this past week I want to share my thoughts and concerns going forward in infusing media in our educational practices and professional pedagogies.
The skills youth need to participate, learn, and grow in the 21st century have changed significantly since I was in school, and even more so since my parents attended. The participatory culture that this generation, and the last, are part of has demonstrated a critical need for developing specific skills in education if they, and future generations, are to be functional members of today and tomorrows media/technology-centered society. The skills outlined in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media education for the 21st century can all be accomplished if the teacher, digital immigrant or native, knows what he/she is doing. The concern I have witnessed in observation and conversation is the traditional teachers or, digital immigrants, reluctance to learn new skills to include digital technologies to help students achieve outcomes. Whether is is a fear of change, lack of self-confidence, efficacy, or simple complacency this will contribute to the participation gap that currently exists for many youth who do not have access to or knowledge about using digital technologies. A commitment to equal opportunity and professional development, and most importantly TIME- time to learn, time to collaborate, time to experiment- by teachers, administrators and policy makers is critical if we are to give youth the skills they need to be successful in the future.
Another huge concern I have is supported by Sinek (2016), Turkle (2012) and Jergenson (2012) in their presentations about the ways that we are controlled by our devices. We can’t stand to be bored, we need instant gratification, and seek affirmation and social acceptance yet at the same time we are so consumed, as residents, by our devices that we lack real world experiences, specifically the ability to develop deep meaningful relationships. Our reliance on online connections is pushing us further from real life connections. Perhaps at school, it should be a space for social interaction, cooperation, and problem solving without devices. Don’t our youth spend enough time with technology outside school hours? Now we want to use BYOD and tech-time to fill the moments in between lessons instead of encouraging students to interact with one another. We must, as Gunpreesh also suggests, find a balance, this I know!
Education, as we have witnessed in great depth throughout the pandemic, has changed and will continue to change. Henny (2006) speaks to 9 things that will shape the future of education and, as a digital immigrant, I find I am constantly trying to keep up! As teachers only have so much time and keep getting stretched thinner, keeping up with ‘free choice’ and ‘personalized learning’, although incredibly beneficial, is exhausting (perhaps less for the digital natives)! Currently, relating to the 9 things, I am proud that I use project based and experiential learning, I can give my students opportunities to learn in diverse times and places (due to pandemic necessities I acquired that knowledge and skill set), and give my students opportunities for ownership where they are involved in the way they experience the curriculum, they have a voice and a choice in activities, assessments, and learning strategies.
The moral of this story, I think, is change requires buy-in and commitment to the process and the students through personal and professional development. Networking has never been so easy, as I have been engaged with Twitter these past 3 weeks, we must collaborate and support each other as we continue on this digital wave or we will drown!