Technology and Education in the 21st Century
Technology is transforming the way we live and work. Fueled by rapid innovations and the global adoption of social, mobile and other new technologies, the pace of change in our economy and culture is changing.. The traditional notion of what it means to be literate has been reshaped as access to information has become ubiquitous. Remaining globally competitive requires changes in the current definition of public education with regard to what constitutes content, process, and value. Educational theorist John Seely Brown calls this a new culture of learning and believes, “that this new culture of learning can augment learning in nearly every facet of education and every stage of life. It is a core part of what we think of as “arc of life” learning, which comprises the activities in our daily lives that keep us learning, growing, and exploring.”(1)
The Morris School District believes a new culture of learning will thrive in progressive inquiry-based classrooms. By providing students access and the ability to connect, learners will develop marketable skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the 21st century. Technology is uniquely positioned to transform learning, to foster critical thinking, creativity and innovation, and to prepare learners to thrive in the global marketplace. As inquisitive, open-minded learners, students are able to acquire and apply content knowledge and skills through active exploration, interaction and cooperation with others. Technology literacy and the ability to access, manage, analyze, integrate, evaluate, and create information in a variety of forms and media are essential. Students need to know more than just how to use technology— they must be able to manipulate technology to gather knowledge and use it to communicate, to build learning networks, and to innovate.
MSD Technology Integration Objectives
To ensure fidelity to the District’s vision for the integration of technology, a common core set of objectives has been established. These objectives serve as guiding principles across all classrooms and schools in the Morris School District.
1: Effective Learners: Students use appropriate tools to efficiently gather, critically evaluate, and effectively process information to make informed decisions when conducting inquiry and applying knowledge to real life contexts.
- Vision Statement: Attitudes and Behaviors: Our community will be characterized by inquisitive, discerning, open-minded, and self-directed learners who use technology in a balanced and responsible manner.
2: Effective Communicators: Students use appropriate media to effectively communicate ideas, knowledge, and understanding to audiences ranging from local to global.
- Vision Statement: Learning Environment: Ubiquitous access to technology tools and resources will enhance our learning environment, expanding horizons beyond the physical classroom. This will empower MSD learners to access information, collaborate, and exchange ideas within the MSD community and around the world.
3: Effective Creators and Problem Solvers: Students demonstrate creative and critical thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using appropriate technology.
- Vision Statement: Educational Experiences: Educational experiences will be authentic, imaginative, and provide for different learning paces and styles. Our staff will encourage learners to become independent and enterprising thinkers who will meet the challenges of a constantly changing world. Learners will also leverage the creative abilities of a learning network to solve complex problems.
4: Effective Collaborators: Students connect with peers and “experts” to collaborate, develop their own understanding, contribute to the learning of others, and offer perspective to the global society using a variety of media and online communities.
- Vision Statement: Personal Learning Networks: Stakeholders will leverage to power of personal learning networks to solve complex problems and contribute towards the growth of peers, members of the local community and those around the world.
5: Ethical Citizens: Students practice legal and ethical behavior with an understanding of cultural and societal issues related to technology and information.
- Vision Statement: Actions and Decisions: Our actions and decisions will demonstrate responsible digital citizenship, will reflect our school values and will create a positive online presence. Learners will value empathy and will strive to understand what it is like to “walk” in someone else’s shoes.
6: Inquiry-Driven Research: Students will develop lines of inquiry and work towards presenting findings in public exhibitions.
- Vision Statement: Goal Driven Research: Learners will engage in effective process-driven, inquiry-based research. A learner’s experience or creation will culminate in an exhibition, and presentation of the research, process and product is a valuable feedback element of a life-long learner.
1. Thomas, Douglas, and John Seely. Brown. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace?, 2011. Print.
2. "Standards - Digital Dragons." Standards - Digital Dragons. Yokohoma International School, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2012. <https://sites.google.com/a/yis.ac.jp/digitaldragons/standards>.
In the Morris School District at the K-2 grades we are fortunate to have computers in all homerooms as well as computer labs as part of our well stocked media centers. On our equipment various software support all areas of learning- electronic storybooks “read” stories in multiple languages, adventure games foster problem solving skills, story-making programs encourage literacy and creativity, and science activities promote classification and understanding of the world from a young child’s perspective. As early as Kindergarten, children become familiar with the use of pull-down menus to launch programs, negotiate menus and interfaces, and successfully use computers, digital cameras, create stories and look up facts. The use of technology is blended with face-to-face instruction and is in balance with other activities and routines. In the intermediate grades, with computers in every classroom as well as computer labs in all of our schools, students develop and understand the purpose of and are able to use various computer applications. They continue to develop information literacy skills and increasingly use technology to communicate with others to support and enhance content knowledge and skills while recognizing the need for cyber safety and acceptable use policy. In our middle and high schools, students expand their capacity to use operations and applications, apply information literacy skills and select the appropriate tools and resources to accomplish a variety of tasks as they develop digital citizenship. Students also investigate the impact of technology systems, understand the design process and use it for problem solving. Furthermore, participation in online learning communities builds understanding of the perspectives of other learners. Many of our students take part in specialized technology courses that forward the design process in the development of a productand go on to solve design challenges and/or build prototypes using the design process. Media Specialists and the Educational Technology Specialists of the Morris School District designed and composed our technology curriculum to comply with the Technology Literacy requirements of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. The design of our curriculum is more rigorous than that mandated by the state. Our technology curriculum is intended to be utilized and integrated with all the other approved curricula in order to meet our district’s technology goals.