Week 6: How does the Culture of your Current Teaching Environment Differ from the Learning You Experienced as a Student?

The new culture of learning includes two key elements: a massive information network with unlimited access to resources and a bounded and structured environment where children have the agency to build and experiment (New Culture of Learning).  Today’s “new culture of learning” includes using gaming as an option in our classrooms.  Students have the opportunity to participate in collaborative projects via the internet.  In the past students could only participate in collaborative projects during classroom time.  Using games such as “Scratch” allows students the opportunity to receive support from their peers and fosters good citizenship, (New Culture of Learning).

In the past the teacher not only modeled for students but ultimately told the students how and what to learn.  In (some) of today’s classrooms students are being encouraged to learn on their own.  Teachers act more as facilitators as students support each other as they learn.  Children are learning how to learn on their own, and they learn how to use support from their peers to gain new information (Newman from “Drakkart, Why Minecraft Inspires Me”).  One game that supports this new culture of learning is Minecraft.  Recently I have spent a great deal of time learning how to play Minecraft for my other graduate level course.  I am amazed at how much I have learned from my family as I learn to play this game.  My husband and children took pictures of me playing the first night I tried and had a few good laughs.  When I have questions I frequently ask my son to help me.  Not only have I learned a great deal from him, but I have also developed a great connection with my son.  If educators are willing to take the time to learn how to play games such as Minecraft, they can create connections with their students.  Dave Burgess speaks about finding your passion in his book, Teach like a Pirate.  In order for teachers to reach students today they need to focus on what they are passionate about and then bring that passion into their classroom.  Teachers also need to take the time to get to know their students outside of the classroom; in other words, teachers need to learn what the students enjoy doing outside of school and take time to establish a relationship with students  (Burgess, Dave, 2012).

Learning in the past took on a “mechanistic view” the goal was to learn as much as you could in as little time as you could.  In A New Culture of Learning, the author suggests that learning should be viewed in terms of the environment.  In this environment the teacher and students coexist.  Rather than simply fixing a problem the students are working to “grow a solution”, (New Culture of Learning).  Students learn through engagement in real world or real to life games/activities.  This seems to be a very different perspective than when I was in school.  Much of my education was dictated by my teachers; I don’t feel as though I was given the freedom to explore my own interests in elementary school.  However, that being said, in the gifted program at my school I was able to do an independent study program where I spent the year exploring what I wanted.  My daughter is currently doing similar things as a part of her sixth grade program.  Why are we only offering these programs for select students?  It seems that if we are to pursue this “New Culture of Learning” we need to allow more students to have the opportunity to take in the world by “sharing their interests, developing their passions, and by engaging in a play of imagination,” (A New Culture of Learning).

Sources:

Thomas, Douglas & Brown S., John. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.

Drakkart-Why Minecraft Inspires Me. You Tube.

Burgess, Dave. (2012). Teach like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting Inc. San Diego, CA

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4 thoughts on “Week 6: How does the Culture of your Current Teaching Environment Differ from the Learning You Experienced as a Student?

  1. Donna Massin says:

    Part of our discussion on Twitter this week also talked about when technology was first showing up in schools, it seemed only a few students were able to use it. Now all students use technology. Maybe things will change for the new culture of learning as well. Eventually all students may be encouraged to learn in this way. It is a tough question. In the beginning, technology was a great tool to expose gifted students to new things to engage them. Possibly something extra for them to work on after finishing their work. Those who are slower to complete work or who are behind often don’t get to experience the exciting things in school. The problem is that these students may be in need of it the most. While it is hard to justify giving a student who is behind something “extra” to do, it just may be a catalyst to get that student to engage in school and do better. Tough questions.

    • Donna,

      It does seem as those children who take longer to do work miss out on extra chances to engage in technology. Maybe we need to rethink how we integrate technology? This really is a tough question, because we are required in almost all cases to cover the curriculum so giving some students “extra” work is not always an option. If we establish great relationships with our parents and get them involved inside and outside the classroom we have a better chance of allowing students to access these “extra” assignments at home. If we can also make the technology engaging and fun, while being serious, as we have dicussed many times in class then we can certainly engage students in work outside of school. I realize we still need to work to engage kids in technology at school as well. One way to achieve this may be by integrating subject matter; this can be tough at times but the benefits far outway the work put in.

  2. Sara, before this week, I had not really thought too much about how much education has changed. I learn things from my daughter all the time about technology and we learn from our students quite often. There are so many ways for our students to collaborate online too. Do you use many online collaboration tools with your students? I also agree that students should have the opportunity to explore their interests. I have heard talk about our high school being changed to an academy model so that students could choose career or academic pathways. I do not know too much about it but looked at this article http://www.aypf.org/documents/092409CareerAcademiesPolicyPaper.pdf. It seems like it would work well to allow students to explore their interests.

  3. Nicole Fuerst says:

    Sara,
    Your statement, “I don’t feel as though I was given the freedom to explore my own interests in elementary school” rings true with me too. Although I’d probably apply that to high school more than my elementary school experience. I really am an “Alice in Wonderland” kind of learner, an explorer who can determine what I want to know and will jump or fall down a rabbit hole to find it.

    However, my high school experience was about cramming content (NOT even skills!) into my head and multiple-choice testing if I “got it” or not.

    I have found that in trying to create a more “Alice in Wonderland” learning experience for my students, they are freaked out and frustrated by the experience. Have you had similar experiences?

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