21st Century Teaching: The Essentials

We believe it is important to consider that instructional advances need to be made in order to prepare today’s students for life and work in this period of teaching and learning transformation. One can consider numerous domains of pedagogical transformation, yet of the possible domains of transforming teaching and learning with technology, we believe two are especially important: closing the feedback gap and enhancing formative assessment and standard-based grading with free polling and student tracking technologies.

The rationale for both of these rests within highly considered methods for both improving the quality of classroom instruction and the resultant improvement in authentic student engagement, interaction with new knowledge, practicing and deepening that knowledge and generating supportable claims about that new knowledge. The burgeoning literature on improving instruction with technology underscores the need to first begin with an effective model of instruction, and then support, augment and enhance that model with existing and emerging classroom technologies.

We categorically believe that mindfully leveraging technologies in support of highly reliable instructional strategies yields far greater gains than when teachers either call on technology just for the sake of using technology or employ these dependable instructional strategies in the absence of a modern, technology-infused learning context.

It is our considered opinion that in this 21st Century, one simply cannot consider effective pedagogy without considering the context in which today’s students live, work and learn. Indeed, the time has come for classroom teachers to cast aside their trepidation regarding using technology in their instructional design and implementation and to become more open to allowing students to teach them what they know about these digital tools. This very simple, yet profound dynamic can lead to substantive changes in the traditional passive role that students have taken in the instructional relationship, bringing more interaction and contribution to otherwise monolithic pedagogical practices that, unfortunately, have become rather entrenched.

The authors have identified other domains of pedagogical transformation enabled by technology in their upcoming book Disruptive Classroom Technologies: Domains of Transformation (in press). Much like closing the feedback gap and enhancing how students use readily available technologies to make their thinking apparent, the approach for articulating each domain of transformation is informed by high quality education research and a wealth of practical classroom experience. The authors hope that such an approach will help the body of professional educators in the field develop and maintain an inquiry-based approach to artfully wielding existing, new and emerging technologies, not as ends onto themselves, but as means to a far more powerful end: building future generations of capable, adaptive, fluid and agile learners who readily embrace the ongoing process of learning, unlearning and relearning – for lifetimes to come.

This post extracted with permission from the authors’ forthcoming essay in Teaching Effectiveness And Professional Development. (In press) Solution Tree Press. Bloomington, Indiana. All rights reserved.