One of the hardest challenges faced by the Teachers or Schools is keeping the Students engaged in the classroom. With the kids born and growing up with iPods, iPhones, iPads, IM, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, blogs, podcasts, Gaming arcades, et al, the daunting task of maintaining their interest inside the classroom is a exercise in vain for the educators who still choosing to go with traditional teaching methods using paper, pencil, blackboard, chalk alone.
In contrary to the classrooms of our generation (I’m from the old school!), or even those of a mere ten years ago, this generation classrooms need a totally different set of teaching tools and methods in order to insure that kids are inspired, motivated and engaged to learn in a conducive environment. Kids should have available to them, 24X7 access to all information, interact with others, and remain connected to the world in a real time fashion.
Some of the instructional paradigms which can be adapted to grab your Students attention are:
Interactive Learning is a pedagogical approach that incorporates social networking and urban computing into course design and delivery. Time has come when students entering institutes of higher education have expected that interactive learning will be an integral part of their education. The use of interactive technology in learning for these students is as natural as using a pencil and paper were to past generations.
1. Social Media
The socialization of education is evolving in the form of personalized digital media sources. Web logs, or blogs, enable students to express thoughts and ideas individually, while at the same time sharing them with the larger community. The pervasiveness of social networks like Myklassroom, MySpace and Facebook connect millions of learners to a virtual community where information is exchanged laterally between and among students and teachers alike. This explosion of community is contributing to an expanding learning economy, where participants have unparalleled access to knowledge, both from teachers and other students.
2. Urban Computing
This set of technologies includes the use of wireless networks, smart phones and PDAs, search engines, and location-based media. Urban computing allows enhanced interactivity between people and their environment through the use of these technologies. For Interactive Learning, this means that students are able to assimilate knowledge specific to their location.
In accordance with above trend, educators needs to increasingly offer hands-on, practical learning opportunities in the classroom in order to create an atmosphere that is both familiar and comfortable for students and hence encourages a much greater level of participation and involvement in learning.
The asynchronous communication is a thing of the past and this ‘stand & deliver’ style of teaching does not work anymore in this generation classrooms. Students of today need a two-way communication from teachers and from peers. Many researchers claim that actively engaging the mind of the learner leads to better learning than allowing them to sit back and passively receive information presented by a teacher. Brain-based research tells us the learning takes place in “chunks” and the brain needs rest between bursts of learning. Today many teachers who believe there is still a need for content presentations seek to break down their content into bite-sized chunks the brain can handle. This often takes the form of short content presentations followed by group work. Many teachers alternate their student involvement periods between individual assignments and group discussion activities. The more fluid the classroom discussion, and the greater the interest of the teacher in embracing students in the experience, the more genuine will be the involvement of the students in the instructional experience.
The seditious popularity of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Blogs is indicative of the fact that today’s kids want to be part of something larger, to be connected to those with common interest and to canvas available opinion before reaching conclusions. This being the mindset and trend, the educators should try incorporating into the classroom, small discussions, some team activities, group assignments in a virtual space, that is, in a secure online environment which results in high level of student participation. Old ways of ‘Go to Chapter 4, Page 23’ and a one hour lecture on it, is not creating any productive learning any more.
We are in need of transparent learning and one of the benefits of transparent learning is the ability to not only receive feedback from the instructor but to seek feedback from a much larger audience. With the innovations of Youtube, Academic earth etc, students and teachers are creating their own version of the academic content which we were not seeing a decade ago. Adapting social learning in education encourages students to provide fresh perspectives on traditional content, to develop their own original content, and to think outside the conventional lines of instruction, leading to quality learning.
With the most popular team-based competitive play, kids are motivated by engaging in healthy, competitive, team play. The word “play” was looked upon as a negative in the classroom in generations past, an increasing body of research is becoming available that attests to the positive cognitive benefits of game play. That fact, combined with the availability of a growing array of “game products” that are standards-compliant and classroom-appropriate, provide teachers with a new generation of resources to help address the needs of today’s students.
There are a growing category of supplemental educational products that meet all of the above criteria. Examples of such products are BrainNook, Syum, Classroom Jeopardy! and GeoSafari Quiz Bowl etc. Given the availability of these types of products, and continued advances in interactive whiteboards, handheld student responders, classroom countdown timers, and a host of other “new-age” classroom resources, today’s educators increasingly have available the tools necessary to make instruction at once more engaging, inspiring, dynamic and fun.