Futurist and international leader in educational technology Alan November visited Marlborough March 24 to share his ideas about 21st century learning. He envisions learning in the future as a dialogue between students, faculty and technological resources.
November visited classes, met with fifteen students, Educational Council and the 21st Century Learning Committee, and spoke at an all-faculty meeting. Throughout the day, he discussed the need to transform the culture of teaching and learning.
November said that it is not enough to simply have the most advanced technology in the classroom, but that students need to learn how to harness its power. Having the most sophisticated Smartboard technology is no better than a white board if it’s not being used the right way.
The future of education lies in how well students are equipped to distill information, November said, and students should initiate learning on their own. November said students should learn lessons the night before class, using technology such as podcasting, and then do homework during class, when they will be able to discuss problems with teachers.
“Even if you learn something, you don’t necessarily own it. It should be the teachers’ goal to help students own the knowledge,” November said.
Imani Clark ’11, one of the students who met with November, said that it would be challenging to completely change the learning environment.
“It would be difficult to begin self-instructing, but if students were taught to use information technology appropriately and had a transition period, his approach to learning could be very effective,” she said.
November said that in order to advance independent learning, students need to know how to properly use Google to avoid being overwhelmed by weak sources, and to refine searches for the best information by using tools such as custom search engines.
“It was really thought-provoking,” said Science instructor Mark Guevin. “He talked about not just incorporating technology into our curriculum, but changing our whole approach to teaching.”
In November’s theory, teachers should listen to students as they apply knowledge and help them become independent problem-solvers and critical thinkers. The teacher should step down from the role of “instructor” to guide students as they find their own solutions.
November will lead a mini-conference for teachers at Marlborough June 2-4.
Article by Celine and Colleen.