We live in times of unprecedented technological change. The growth of the Internet, the proliferation computing devices (particularly low-cost machines like the XO computer pictured here), and the increasing availability of high-speed Internet access all point to the same reality: today’s students are citizens of a globally networked world.
Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat identifies ten “flatteners” – forces converging for the first time to level the worldwide economic playing. Innovative educators like Julie Davis (Qatar, Doha) and Vicki Davis (Camilla, Georgia) applied Tom Friedman’s principles and created the Flat Classroom Project, an award-winning, internationally recognized global collaboration between Julie and Vicki’s students. These students, half a world apart, work together, seamlessly, virtually, synchronously and asynchronously to expand their knowledge of math, science, social studies, language arts, and more … not to mention each other and the world around them.
Furthermore, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has created a Framework for 21st Century Learning that several state Departments of Education, including New Jersey, have endorsed. New Jersey is currently working on integrating that 21st Century Skills framework into our Core Curriculum Content Standards. In addition the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE’s) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) were recently refreshed for students, teachers and administrators. These organizations are driven by passionate educators, members of the business community, researchers and concerned individuals worldwide, all dedicated to transforming teaching and learning through the use of educational technology.
What does all this mean for the students of Northfield?
It means that our students have opportunities for learning experiences unlike any they have ever encountered so far in their lives. We have access to free, powerful software that facilitates connections between learners across the hall or across the globe. We have a wealth of human resources available to us in the form of educators who are also using these technologies. We also have the ability to contribute our own knowledge so that others may learn from us. And, we can do all of this from the comfort and safety of our own school and homes.
We live in times of unprecedented technological change. It is up to us as educators and global citizens to find ways to make this change work for us, to help us reach the struggling student, to help us stretch the gifted student, and most of all, to help all students learn how to learn in our globally networked society.