(Credit: Alec Couros)
Yes, this looks a little overwhelming, but it really doesn’t take too long to do some investigating and to figure out what pieces are important to you in your professional life and what pieces could be used in your traditional and virtual classrooms. Fortunately, most of these tools are easy to use and can be mastered with little or no help. The key part is to be thinking about the pedagogical aspects and to start creating opportunities for students to use the tools in their learning.
Allowing your students to use these tools can give them some new and exciting ways of demonstrating their learning, and at the same time can provide alternatives for matching activities with learning styles while promoting cooperation, sharing, and the building of a learning community.
Teachers must be proficient in these skills in order to model good practices for their students to ensure that students use the tools ethically and safely, and to help them include these skills in learning. You don’t need to be an expert in all the tools — leave that up to the students. As a teacher, you need to be able to guide the students in picking the right tool for the task by giving them some exemplars and modelling the use of some tools.
Characteristics of the 21st-Century Teacher
Churches, Andrew (2008, May 14). 21st Century Teacher. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from Wikispaces Web site: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st+Century+Teacher.
What are the characteristics we would expect to see in a 21st-century educator? We know they are student centric, holistic, and teaching about how to learn as much as teaching about the subject area. We know too, that they must be 21st-century learners as well. But teachers are more than this:
(Adapted under Creative Commons License from Educational Origami.)
You can visit the Educational Origami site to see a more detailed description of the characteristics. We know that teachers modelling exemplary and ethical use of technology is a key method of transferring the same characteristic to students and that modelling is identified by ISTE as a key component of teaching.
Ning was a hotbed of such sites, including Classroom 2.0 (which did not survive the move to a paid service, College 2.0 can now be found on Facebook), College 2.0, and Enrichment 2.0, but its status is in flux, since the owners announced the end of free sites, only to have sponsored free sites made available a short time later. The future of free social networking sites for education probably will emerge in regional or national installations of free software like Drupal, Joomla!, or WordPress (the software used to host this course). The Social Networks in Education wiki provides a long classified list of social networks of interest to educators.
Those of you involved in K-12 education should take a look at Classroom 2.0, a funded Ning site that has been unaffected by the recent changes. It links thousands of educators from Canada and the U.S. and includes communities created around hundreds of specific topics.