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A Student’s Perspective: The Borderless Classroom, Part 2 of 2

August 24, 2011 - 2 Comments

I am a member of the millennial generation, and I have been exposed to the education system for nearly 14 years. Recent analysis of Cisco’s International Education Survey prompted me to reflect on my experience as a student. This passage is the second in a two-blog series that portrays my perspective on how and why technology will benefit every facet of teaching and learning.

This blog represents my interpretations on technology’s aid in the evolution of how teachers teach.

The bell sounds as I step through the door into Ms. Palmer’s chemistry class. I stand in the back of the class and scan the room for an empty seat. Ideally, I like to sit in the middle of the class. If I sit in the back, or the front, I draw more attention to myself, and I like to blend in during this period. Most of my usual seat choices are occupied, so I grab a chair near the front of the class and pull out my chemistry textbook. I take a look at the inside of the cover, and I see the names of students who graduated six years ago.

I turn to chapter 13 and stare intensely at the pages crammed full with formulas and data tables. Hopefully, if I glare hard enough, somehow all of the concepts and knowledge of molecules and protons will rush into my head (even though they hadn’t during the multiple hours that I’d attempted this tactic the night before). I give up and shove the textbook back into my backpack as Ms. Palmer begins to pass out the blue and pink tests, an image that I have been dreading for at least a week now. She hands me the exam, and I proceed to flip through the pages in hopes of finding a problem that I know how to solve…No luck.

I look up from the test and glance around the room. My friend, John, is sitting three seats to the right of me, effortlessly mowing his way through the test. John doesn’t take notes in class or even study before exams, but somehow he always receives stunning grades on almost every chemistry assignment. I don’t understand what I am doing wrong. During Ms. Palmer’s lectures, I pay attention, I take notes, and I’ve even spent time after school reviewing lessons with her. Usually, I’m pretty good at science. Why was this class so different? Why can’t I understand what Ms. Palmer is trying to teach me?

There have been a number of instances during my education where I have not understood the concepts or lessons that my teachers strived to convey to me. Why was this? Why was it easier for me to understand some teachers better than others? According to Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson, the authors of Disrupting Class, there are eight different methods of intelligence, and everyone has a different combination of two or three of these learning styles. Basically, what this means is that every person learns differently. The current model of education makes it almost impossible for teachers to weave together lesson plans that utilize all eight of these learning styles. This doesn’t mean that teachers are ineffective or that kids who are struggling are poor students.  It simply indicates that there needs to be a change in the way that kids are taught.

This change is technology.

76% of respondents feel that technology plays a large role in how teachers teach.

–          Cisco’s International  Education Survey, 2011

Technology has the power to dramatically enhance the education model. Using software programs, teachers now are able to use online textbooks that are updated daily and that students can access at anytime. There are blended learning programs available that help teachers customize a lesson plan based on the progress and unique learning needs of each student in the classroom. This further aids teachers in the critical area of remediation for students.

Video and collaborative tools now allow for the expansion of teaching and learning outside the confines of the classroom. By using video technologies teachers can connect with students for live video office hour sessions, communicate with other faculty members remotely, record lectures for students to watch before or after class, initiate virtual field trips, and allow for the creation of class projects with other classes around the world.

The potential of technology to transform the classroom is limitless.

Globally, schools and teachers are beginning to make changes that will enhance the way students learn. This change will be the catalyst for a greater level of student motivation, engagement and success.  Technology can help teachers reach students with multiple teaching approaches for multiple learning styles.

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  1. Looks like there is new evidence that the learning styles aren’t as prevalent as Christiansen has written about.

    Check out NPR’s story – “THink You’re an Auditory or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It’s Unlikely”

    • Hi Lori,

      Thanks for the post. Very interesting article.

      The article prompted me to research the subject in a little bit more depth, and I am not sure that it is disproving the idea of multiple learning styles. Instead, I believe that it’s calling the experimental data produced around the subject into question.

      “When he reviewed studies of learning styles, he found no scientific evidence backing up the idea. We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these.”

      Your right, the research around the topic is fairly unclear. However, from my experience, I have found that technology can be a key enabler for student centered instruction.

      Thanks again for posting, and I would love to hear any other thoughts that you might have.

      – Tom Patton