Before we get into taking a look at Windows for education, I thought it might be worth reflecting on what exactly is driving the use of technology in our classrooms today. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in how we discover, access, and use digital content, in ways that are enabling immersive experiences and engagements. As a result, in schools we’re seeing a growing trend towards Bring your Own Device and 1 to 1 Personalized Learning. We’re also seeing learning outside of the classroom made possible in ways we never would have imagined just 20 years ago, and we have started to see some of the potential that the cloud brings to school computing. More than anything though, one of the key drivers behind the adoption of technology in our classrooms has been the commitment and desire to develop, in all our students, a set of core 21st Century skills that will enable them to progress through their education and beyond.

Skills for tomorrow’s workforce e.g.

skillsAlthough this list is not exhaustive, it does give us some idea of the types of skills that we wish to impart on our students as they move through our schools and classrooms. These are all skills that are growing in demand in today’s economy. You’ll notice that these are not the traditional skills like  typing or other manual skills and they are not standard routine skills like algebra or math. They are much more inclusive.

We’ve been doing some research to try to understand exactly what role technology can play in innovative teaching practice and students’ attainment of 21 Century Skills. Over the last two years, Partners in Learning has sponsored a study called the Innovative Teaching and Learning Research, which seeks to investigate the factors that help transform education systems and improve student learning outcomes. The research was conducted by SRI International and guided by OECD, UNESCO, ministries of education and other experts. Nobody has ever tried to isolate the relationship between innovative teaching practice and the attainment of 21C skills, so this is ground breaking stuff! One of the most critical findings from our research included the current use of ICT in classrooms:

 

ITL research findings

The ITL data shows that when students use ICT for class-related activities, they are most often using it in basic rather than higher-level uses that demand knowledge-building or collaboration. This is important because basic uses of ICT tend to support traditional teaching practices by simply incorporating technology. The process of teaching is often not changing. This really defines the scope of work that we all should be aware of moving forward with 21st Century teaching and learning. We know that technology can play such a crucial and supportive role in innovative teaching and 21st century learning outcomes, but we need to use technology in the appropriate way. This is our collective challenge.

We should remember that although we are advocating the use of ICT, the fundamentals of what we are trying to achieve should be the same.

‘’In the 21st century it is about learning the skills and the tools

 

to remake content. It is about becoming the creator and

 

the producer’’

Diana Rhoten -Director of Digital Media and Learning

 

Diana Rhoten from the Social Science Research Council puts it nicely when she talks about a need to give children an experience that means something to them personally. Something that they can relate into the context of their own lives. They want to be able to take that experience and reshape it and retell it in this context, and then go further still and use that experience for themselves and with others. We believe that technology can help to make a huge impact in this area. Roughly translated, old models of schooling based on consumption of content must be changed. We need to focus on learning rather than schooling, and so beyond just consumption, we should be thinking about creation, and collaboration. Or production and participation. There are any number of labels we can put on these skills, as we’ve seen, and as we take a look at some of the technology available today, lets keep in mind these three essential elements of 21st century learning: Consumption, Creation & Collaboration.

The next part in this series: Windows 8 reimagined, bringing learning to life.’

 

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