21st Century Learning

My colleague, Donna, asked, “What would you show educators as an example of what 21st century learning looks like?”

I would start with my upcoming trip to Texas. I’m giving a paper at SITE, any my husband and I are going early and poking along the gulf coast looking for lighthouses and whooping cranes. I’ve written about how I used the web to plan and track the trip in another post. That’s 21st century learning in a nutshell for me: use the web to find information AND use the web to customize, organize, and share that information. When it’s done, I’ll post my Google Earth overlay to the discussion forum. I used the overlay for National Wildlife Refuges to locate refuges in southern Texas. And, I can’t wait to create my own “mash-up” when we get back, incorporating pictures and weblinks into Google Earth and displaying it on a web page to tell the story of our trip. That, my friends, is 21st century learning.

If I were a music teacher, my kids would be composing music to include at freeculture’org’s Free Music Project website. They are collecting “free” music–that means copyright-friendly stuff–and there aren’t really any gatekeepers. Participating in a project like this–or a project like Librivox.org, where users record audio files of famous public-domain novels–helps kids learn about the collaborative nature of the World Wide Web. They become creators as well as consumers.

I spend a lot of time talking about Wikipedia. It’s tough for people to get the concept and not be skeptical. So, I am going to start including a link to this story from the BBC. (Forget the pretty amazing fact that I have access to a new source like the BBC…) The story talks about a professor who is requiring students to read and write articles for the online encyclopedia. What a GREAT idea! It provides our students with the authentic audience that was tough to find in the past. AND, it helps out Wikipedia, which has been suffering from negative press of late. This is a great example of putting CONTENT into a 21st century CONTEXT. Why not use your new-found knowledge to inform others?

I am definitely going to include The Great Big Vegetable Challenge, a blog started by a mom to encourage her child to eat vegetables. I chatted live with the mom the other evening…she’s in London.

I am using more and more video from YouTube as part of my work. Communicating visually is a 21st century skill…how often do we give our kids the chance to communicate that way? Go to YouTube to watch Michael Wesch’s Web 2.0 video. Then watch the video responses. Or watch Introducing the Book at YouTube and then watch the video clip from a Norwegian news program that reports the popularity of the clip on YouTube.

I’m going to end with the K12 Online Conference…it’s the best example of 21st century learning that I know of. It was held in October 2006, completely online! And, that’s the beauty of it…you can still attend. All the presentations are available online.

Oh…I’ve started finding more and more educators intrigued by the idea of Second Life.

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