Technology has Developed a New Kind of Learner

These are my nephews.  The 16 year old is  updating his Facebook status on his mobile device.  The 3 year old is playing an ABC game in his iPod Touch… he doesn’t have a Facebook page yet, but he will never know what life was like before  Facebook.  Amazing!

What is even more amazing is that students are different today because of technology. They learn differently, they think differently, they communicate differently.  Teachers know this, but this change is about much more than “text speak” and decreasing attention spans. According the Pew Research Center, three things have combined to change the context of learning:   widespread access to broadband Internet connectivity, social networking forums, and the near ubiquity of mobile computing.  According to the experts, these three things are producing a new kind of learner, one that is “self-directed, better equipped to capture information, more reliant on feedback from peers, more inclined to collaborate, and more oriented toward being their own nodes of production.” (Read the entire article here.)

Having spent 10 years in an elementary classroom, I watched as technology became a tool that engaged kids, motivated them, and sparked creativity that wasn’t apparent in traditional pencil paper activities.  I watched children who couldn’t write a book report create a spectacular interactive  multimedia presentation complete with story elements, cohesive ideas, and higher level thinking.  All with the expressed intent of sharing with  peers and eliciting feedback.

Technology enables our students to go beyond learning and publish original works.   Today’s kids view social networks and collaboration forums as a sort of performance stage… performing for people they know as well as for people they don’t know.  It isn’t important to my nephew that he doesn’t know the over 1000 friends he’s collected on Facebook.  What is important to him is that he has an audience reading, evaluating, and commenting on  his updates, posts, and shared links.  Facebook is one place where he can express himself and interact with others – also evaluating, reading and commenting on their posts.  How cool would it be if the education world truly learned how to harness that kind of motivation in the learning experiences that we’re providing our students? is a leading provider of educational materials for teachers, parents and students from preschool through high school.  Browse the wide selection of instructional technology materials such as interactive whiteboard resources, instructional software, electronic learning games, and more designed to enhance teaching and learning.

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