There is extensive research to show that students learn well when they learn from one another. Collaborative learning can, and should, assume an important role in the classroom, and developing technology is able to play a large and very useful role in the process. The ISTE NETS Standard 1 says that teachers will “Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.” It continues to state that teachers “use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation…” Using computers allows teachers to reach beyond the typical tools in the classroom to access the wealth of information on the internet. Crook says that, “in particular, computers offer a medium in which abstract material can be rendered accessible through creating visible and manipulable representations.” In other words, technology can help teachers present alternate means to understanding a concept. Thanks to Howard Gardner, we remember that not all students learn the same way—using technology can help teachers address these differences.
That being said, can technology play a part in encouraging students to work collaboratively? Absolutely! Marc Perry’s brief article on Google Wave shows how even this tool can be a very valuable addition to a classroom. Not only does the technology allow students within the class to connect, it also presents the opportunity for different classes to work together. The inter-disciplinary work gives students a meaningful experience while connecting them to other students.
This standard is important for my (future) classroom for many reasons—one of the most important to me, however, is the fact that I will be able to interact with my students through medias with which they are comfortable. What I mean by this is that many students are very comfortable using technology for communication, pleasure, homework, etc., and encouraging them to use technology will be setting them up for success not only in their school career but also in life beyond school!
Using Pageflakes is just one way in which I as a teacher can address the ISTE NETS standards. One of the components involves “model[ing] collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.” By using this, and other online resources like Google Wave, I can model to students the benefits of being connected to others via internet. I think that by encouraging students to find out what information and resources are available to them through Webquests or other online assignments gives them an opportunity to gain new skills for learning that they can use on their own.
Visit my Pageflakes site here.
Crook, C. (1997). Children as computer users: The case of collaborative learning. Computers Education, 30, 237-247.
Perry, M. (2010). How to teach with google wave. The Chronicle of higher education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogPost/How-to-Teach-With-Google-Wave/19501/