So rather than state that today's generation are a multi-tasking generation who should learn the way they learn sub-consciously out with the school environment, it is quickly asks the questions: Is our child-centred methods of learning what will enable our children to succeed in the future. Christensen does query this briefly when he highlights that Asisan students are performing better in league tables due to their 'lecture' stye of learning compared to student-centred learning style of America who are falling further behind the league table. On the other hand, an article in the Washing Post argues the benefits of the American style of teaching as it prepares students for a fast-paced future where problems-solving, communication, collaboration and innovation are at the heart of learning, not just memorising facts and figures.
I do believe that both go hand in hand just like teaching and learning work together. Remember, you can teach but a child may not learn and a child can learn without being taught. When teaching and learning work together the educational experience is far richer. Just the same as we need to be able to have knowledge and skills as the backbone to what we can offer but we also need the ability to innovate, solve problems and work with others. It reminds me of how my own musical ability and my children's. I am a mathematical musician who reads music to perform, who uses my memory to know how a piece of music should be interpreted. Composing my own music or simply playing a requested tune is not possible if I do not have it in my memory or the notes are not there to be read. My children, on the other hand, learnt music initially by ear. They learnt by exploring all the instruments my musician husband and I had around the house. Learning to read music was a chore but they persevered and are now accomplished musicians with the ability to read and play all music styles through using the skills and knowledge they have developed over the years. They are also able to extend what is on the written script to wonderful musical treats rather than just the notes that are there. Without the skills and knowledge they would be limited in their creativity and their ability to work as a team with an array of musicians. Without their innovation and creativity they would be limited to only playing what they know and what they can access.
Teaching and learning with technologies is similar to this. Yes today's generation have the technology around them and use aspects of the technology to create, communicate and collaborate to meet their own needs. Some will be innovative and creative and some will just do what they have learnt from others. It is the job of educators to develop the skills and knowledge of children's use of technologies alongside creativity and innovation. Technologies should not just be a 'bolt on' in the classroom to make something look presentable but should be used where the technology will enhance the learning environment not duplicate what works perfectly. Christensen mirrors this view where he states that 'schools use computers as a tool and a topic, not as a primary instructional mechanism that helps students learn in ways that are customised to their type of intelligence...Teachers have implemented computers in the most common-sense way - to sustain their existing practices and pedagogies rather than to displace them' (Chrsitensen, 2008:81).
How often is the above still true for many educators who still use technology to make their learning apparently meet the needs of all learners - visual and auditory learners will get images, audio and video in presentations!!! Hands-up those that have taken this approach? I have to admit, when I started my current post as a lecturer all my primary teacher pedagogy was thrown aside as I became the lecturer that focused more on imparting knowledge to the crowds rather than teach the way that underpinned my personal classroom pedagogy. I was too centred around the educational content rather than the students' learning needs. I only began to address learners' needs after the module assignment at the end of each block where the assignments revealed current understanding of concepts. Unfortunately, my evaluation of learning was too late for current learners due to them moving to the next module. Christensen discusses this conventional teacher assessment process where 'if students haven't mastered all the material but know it well enough to get a passing grade, the students will move on' (Christensen, 2008:108).
Reflecting on my 'lecture' pedagogy, I changed my 'sage on stage' delivery to a more interactive model using the technology students had in their pockets, bags etc. Interactive teaching and learning using mobile technologies is my pedagogical style and area of research. In January I will be presenting with newly appointed professors at Dundee University's Discovery Day. This will focus on my current research using mobile devices in lecture theatres to change my delivery style, enable all students to be active in learning and to meet their immediate needs. Hopefully, in the new year, the research paper will be complete and I will be able to share many of the positive findings with my global peers.
So to finish with, educators need to always keep at the back of their minds, no matter what method they use:
If a child does not learn the way we teach we should teach the way they learn.