21st Century Teaching

As access to educational technology grows it is paramount that as these tools are used to support 21st century teaching and learning and don't simply replicate traditional classroom practices. One of the keys to creating 21st century learning experiences is to ensure that the instructional strategies used in the classroom take advantage of the affordance of technology to create open, collaborative and dynamic learning experiences. Tech-enabled teaching strategies that are open, collaborative or dynamic have the potential to engage students in ways that were not possible or prohibitively burdensome in the past.

Flickr photo by ProctorAcademy
When learning is open and transparent students can learn from each other and take advantage of the benefits of social learning to support academic success. Social technologies like Moodle, Ning, and Schoology provide students with academically-focused opportunities to interact with their peers. Increasing the number of educational interactions between students can serve to enhance a sense of classroom community and allow engaged student to serve are models or a support system for students who experience motivational difficulties, are vulnerable to educational failure or  show signs of disengaging from the learning process (Furlong & Christenson, 2008).

The use of technology can also make it easier to create an open a window into what takes place in the classroom by creating an efficient way to provide parents with the information necessary to support the learning process at home. Classroom websites, blogs and even Twitter allow parents to stay informed about daily assignments and homework and even view videos or images of completed projects or presentations.

Flickr photo by Proctor Academy
More so that traditional classroom tools, the collaborative and participatory nature of many of the latest classroom technologies can make academic collaboration significantly easier for students and teachers. Collaborative tools like Wikis, Google Docs, and Office 365,  encourage students to become active participants or co-producers rather than passive consumers of content (McLoughlin & Lee, 2007). In addition to being an essential 21st skill, collaboration and the opportunity to work with their peers can be used to engage students who are at risk of disengaging from the educational process.


Dynamic instructional strategies acknowledge that teaching does not always have to be a unilateral process and that the classroom teacher does not need to be the only ‘teacher’ available to students. Integrating the use of educational videos from YouTube EDU, Learn 360, or Knowledge Ontario eResources allows teachers to provide their students with a variety of ‘teachers’ that can address an array of different learning styles.

Flickr photo by Mr. Mayo
Tools like Skype, Adobe Connect, and Google Hangouts provide an easy way to bring additional teachers and experts into the classroom so that students can engage in real world  learning experiences. In addition to facilitating  interactions with experts or guest speakers from diverse background, these authentic  learning opportunities can also serve to heighten the relevance of classroom learning and support the development of global and digital citizenship.

Furlong, M. & Christenson, S. L. (2008).  Educating students at schools with learning: A relevant construct for all student. Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 45(5).
McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. Paper presented at the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Singapore.

1 comment:

  1. Recently, there was an article in The Globe and Mail examining the way some work places are reconfiguring their office space. While there were employee desks with individual desktops and laptops on them, there was also an area set aside for group collaboration and problem solving. This area featured a large round table with a white board close by. Clearly, networking and collaborating were valued as a means of building on collective knowledge and both critical and creative thinking.