“Model effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and
resources and access to technology-rich learning environments” – ISTE Coaching Indicator 3a
I think examining ISTE Coaching Indicator 3a provided some of the most rewarding inquiries for me in the Digital Education Leadership program. Utilizing and managing technology in a classroom environment is one of the most direct applications of digital education. The thought of creating “technology-rich learning environments” presented a challenge I find personally very compelling and one I address in two of my favorite posts from my time in the program. The first, The Worst of All Possible Worlds, looks at the potential negatives in creating a technology-centered classroom environment whereas in my post, Space to Learn, I look at how the physical arrangement of the classroom needs to change in order to meet the changing way education is done in a genuine technology rich learning environment.
Looking back at these posts more than a year later, I can appreciate my thinking at the time. The Worst of All Possible Worlds is based on my reaction to two sources. The first is an article by Michael Godsey in The Atlantic where he looks at the dystopian ramifications of a classroom conducted entirely online, with one master teacher teaching thousands of students around the world who learn via computer in classrooms monitored by unskilled or semi-skilled proctors who sit in the classrooms with the students. The second source in the post is an award-winning TED Talk by Sugata Mitra, “Build a School in the Cloud” where he extols the virtues of technology-based, student-driven education that trains students for their future careers. Both of these sources led me to examine the potential pitfalls of the technology-rich learning environment as well as the promise it might bring. I think I was right to be cautious (I still am), but I would still consider myself optimistic with regard to the possibilities this environment can create.
In Space to Learn I look at the sea change that needs to occur with regards to the physical arrangement of the classroom if we are to truly create a technology-rich learning environment for students. I conclude that while we often pay lip-service to the idea, the actual arrangement of our classrooms tends to reflect the 19th century conception of how education should be done. While I have yet to see this sort of change occur at the high school level, I have experienced it at the college level. I am uncertain if this is a result of the lack of willingness, ability, or understanding on the part of high schools, but I believe it presents one of the biggest challenges and opportunities for digital education leaders.