Sunday, May 15, is the final date for submitting applications to the 2011 Microsoft U.S. Innovative Education Forum. Education is undergoing a transformation around the world, one classroom at a time. The Innovative Education Forum is an amazing opportunity for teachers from those classrooms to come together to share, collaborate, and ultimately influence even more widespread change.
Transforming education to meet the needs of 21st century learners involves:
• Moving to student-centered project based learning
• Reaching beyond the walls of the classroom to connect with the real world and engage in projects that are authentic and meaningful
• Using technology tools to enhance and share learning
No longer do teachers need to stand in front of their class and give them facts. Every fact we could ever need is at our fingertips with a simple Bing search. Anything we want to see or learn how to do is likely to be found on YouTube. People everywhere are using the Internet to communicate and collaborate with friends and strangers from all over the globe.
The role of a teacher has become that of questioner, facilitator, and guide. There are still skills to teach, but rather than providing the answers for students to feed back on a test, it is the job of the teacher to ask the questions and allow the students to find the answers. Teachers no longer need to be the experts in the topics they teach. They simply need to find experts to connect with their students. They may come from their own community, or another place in the world. Technology is the tool that makes all of that possible. Students find answers using technology, connect with experts outside the walls of the classroom using technology, and can even travel to places they have never been through friendships with students around the globe. Teachers do not need to be the technology experts. They need to provide their students time to learn and create with technology. Teachers and students are learning together.
Letting go of teaching practices of the past to transform learning to meet the needs of our learners is difficult for many, but rewarding beyond your imagination when the change takes place. Students become engaged, creative, and prepared for the future. If you are, or know a teacher who is changing the way he or she teaches, don't miss this opportunity to participate in professional collaboration with other innovative teachers from around the country.