Characteristics of an effective learner and how technology can support this
Reflecting on five words to describe an effective learner, I felt it necessary to really spell out the meaning of “effective”. The dictionary definitions include: Adequate to accomplish a purpose and having an intended or expected effect so keeping this in mind here are my five words.
Inquisitive: we must really want to find out new things in order to have the enthusiasm and resilience that learning often requires. The sheer breadth of the internet with all its wonderful interactive parts can really encourage inquisitiveness in students.
Adaptable: we cannot get bowled over the first hurdle we come across and must be prepared to adapt as we go along. New tools come along all the time that can do what we want in a better way. We need to be open to these tools and change and adapt as we find ones that suits us better.
Organised : I agree with Cameron on this one – if we are not organised with so much information out there we can never be “effective” – though I am sure we will still learn a great deal but perhaps not just about what we are requiring at any given time. Tools such as Springpad, Diigo, Evernote can make us so much more organised and streamlined so that we can stay on target with our learning.
Persistent: With so much information available we sometimes think it will be very easy to find what we are looking for. But sometimes this just does not happen as quickly as we would hope. We need to be persistent, always looking for that valuable piece of information or that online lecture that will deliver us the goods we are requiring. Here technology can be detrimental to the effective learner as there is so much available it can make it very hard to keep persisting, though as your searching skills increase the knowledge of limiters can filter disseminate some of this information for us and keep us on track
Engaged: Engagement is recognised as a fundamental attribute of deep learning. Here technology can play a vital role in engaging students. Many of the tools that are developed today rely on the students taking an active role in their learning – participating in online discussion groups, sharing what they have found with others, getting in contact with experts in their field, all of which will keep students engaged.
Your own progression with technology, how has it changed the way you learn and shaped your professional practice?I remember my sister showing me how she could type on a keyboard and print it out on the other side of the room! How things have changed. My professional life as a Teacher librarian has totally changed. Thankfully I did not have to suffer the card index and only had to put up with a vertical file for a couple of years. But to think that now we can provide students with databases that will not only provide searchable indexes and full text articles of our local newspapers and journals but those from around the world, sometimes even days before they are published in print format. We can “promote our wares” all over the school, the wider community and in fact the world with digital signage, blogs and library websites. We can provide access to experts previously out of our budget (think artists in residence on Inside a dog) and can streamline tasks within our staff.
Your feelings about the impact of technology on us as citizens
I do think we have a way to go to overcome the “facelessness” of technology that encourages people to write things they would not dream of saying to someone face-to-face. Also the ease at which we can undertake things (think copy and pasting) also adds to the need to keep educating students that our rights and responsibilities as citizens do not change just because we are using technology. In the wider community, I have seen a table of five people in a restaurant all interacting on their mobile phones and not engaging in conversation with their dinner guests. We do need to be vigilant that it does not take over our lives, that we do not forget to embrace nature in all its glory and really “live” moments not just view them from afar.
Your thoughts about the use of technology in learning and the role educators play in modelling the use of technology
At an in-service on literacy, I remember the presenter saying that students will not automatically relate instructions from one subject to another, even if it relies on the same skillset, so repetition is imperative. I think the same can be said about using technology. We may be demonstrating WordPress blogging and encouraging students to write respectfully, attribute others works etc but if we do not draw the link between Facebook and blogging for example, many will just not put the two together. Educators also need to model correct copyright practices and not tell the students that they cannot plagiarise but then produce a burnt DVD to show in class – don’t laugh – it happens!
Predictions about how technology will change the way we learn in the future. (I have based my reflections on the school system P-12)
The following issues will always limit the take up of technology in teaching practice and ensure that it plays a supporting rather than major role in the future of learning in the school system :
Duty of care – we will always have a duty of care to provide a safe environment for our students. Educating students alone about cyber bullying will not stop the practice (people are still smoking despite the enormous amounts of money spent on educating them of the dangers). We are also living in an increasingly litigious society so sadly we do have to lock things down., to provide the duty of care expected of us.
Cost : In only 14 years my school has gone from one word processor in the library to 1-1 laptops, one IT support staff to 5 support staff and one Assistant Principal IT. Our software licencing costs are enormous and despite a greater emphasis on Open source this has not been able to replace purchased software.
Maturity of students: formal photos on Facebook, YouTube clips of One Direction, or a Facebook page of English resources – it’s a no brainer what students will pick first. We can only model on a platform that does not give them access to their own personal fun stuff or it will be a constant battle keeping them on task.
Right relationships: technology will always be anadd on to the powerful relationship building that teachers do to encourage their students to learn. Google believes working at home, or teleworking, is not the best environment for ideas to flourish, so I don’t think we will be embracing a radical “study at home” environment in the school system in the near future, but I predicted that blue jeans would never last and look at them now!