Kylan Mitchell re-imagining classrooms in the digital age

The Decline of Traditional Classrooms: Journal One

Technology is fascinating and, admittedly, a little frightening. For students and learners, it allows thoughts and ideas to traverse time and space instantaneously and for relationships to be built without ever having 'met'. As a student in this course living in South Korea, technology allows me to be present in a learning space without being present at all. Technology allows me to contribute from locations inaccessible to my peers, and at times when many are fast asleep or otherwise indisposed. Learning in the digital age is around the clock, around the globe, and somehow still right at our fingertips. So, what are the implications?

As a millennial and an individual who received his first cellular phone at the age of 18, learning in the digital age has been a significant test of my technological savvy. Most of all, however, it has completely redefined what it means to be part of a 'class' and all of the interactions and expectations therein. It has, as Li (2015) argues, created a learning space free of all of the boundaries and limitations of a traditional classroom setting. I can engage in forum-based conversations while being sick in bed, attend an online collaborative session while getting ready for work, and provide written feedback to my peers while eating a sandwich. Digital learning is flexible and accommodating, but it also provides freedom through its multimodality (Jewitt, 2013). Learning in the digital age has invented new ways for students to interact with their peers, teachers, and the material. Internet access allows students to 'see' beyond the classroom to retrieve and compile information. Computer programs and tablet applications allow students to channel their imagination and creativity in far more innovative ways than traditional pen-and-paper learning. It is becoming exceedingly difficult to justify traditional 'Victorian' classrooms in an era where learning resources are no longer primitive or bound by time and space.

At the same time, the speed at which classrooms, both on-site and online, have evolved in the digital age is intimidating. As an ESL instructor in South Korea since 2011, some of the institutions which I have worked for have employed smart boards, tablets, and computer programs, while others have stuck to rote learning and pen-and-paper methods heralded by the past generation. As a teacher, rotating between contemporary and traditional teaching environments is daunting and stressful. However, as a student I continuously find myself eager to test my capabilities and face new challenges. I have confidence that learning in a digital age will make me better equipped and more adaptable to teach in one.

References:

Li, K. C. (2015, July). Technology-Mediated Learning: Status and Challenges in Perspective. In International Conference on Technology in Education (pp. 3-9). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Jewitt, C. (2013). Multimodality and digital technologies in the classroom. In Multilingualism and Multimodality (pp. 141-152). SensePublishers.

The Digitalization of Knowledge: Journal Two

As another whirlwind summer course winds down, I find myself in a position that is both retrospective but also forward-looking which, while sounding a bit paradoxical, is fittingly appropriate as I move closer to mobilizing the knowledge that I have acquired through nearly two years of research. To be honest, it has felt fresh and rewarding to experiment with different media sources and to present information in ways that both look and feel accessible. It has motivated me to return to my past research, nit-pick my findings, and draw from it a collection of data that can be easily relatable and relevant for those who find themselves in a context similar to my own. It has also allowed me to push my research in new directions by informing me that technology is not only a means for presenting data, but also a tool within education that creates possibilities within my own context as an ESL teacher. Admittedly, a lot of my research will have to be left out, but that is the nature of investigation and the result of my interests becoming more focused and my intentions more deliberate. The resource that I have created in this course and which I will continue to build upon throughout the capstone is the culmination of my understanding of international education and my own journey of self-positioning myself within it.

However, my realizations above are not my only takeaways from this course. Though I am quite familiar with the majority of my peers as individuals, I feel that up to this point I have had few opportunities to truly evaluate their work and to have the opportunity to make sure that my own contributions are up to par. The continuation of affinity groups and the practice of being 'critical friends' has been especially rewarding in this course, and I am becoming increasingly interested in the research and goals of my classmates. It has been a long program together, so it is truly nice to see everyone approaching the finish line with their values and interests at the forefront.

Finally, I have also been grateful for the opportunity to expand my repertoire of academic literature. I have made a habit of cataloging all of the articles that have been presented to me throughout the program, and this semester has been no different. Li's (2015) article, as a discussed in my first journal, was a great way to help me re-imagine the concept of a 'future classroom' and raise questions about why my own teaching context is so adamant about maintaining a traditional learning environment. Jewitt (2013) and Lee et. al. (2016) provided great insights into 21st century learning and the importance of being a multidimensional and independent learner in today's information society. Wang & Cai (2015), Cheung (2015), and Howard & Thompson (2015) all in their own ways broke down the ways technology is currently manifesting itself in educational contexts, complete with all of the advantages, drawbacks, and discrepancies therein in order to both promote and caution such practices. All of these articles together have help me gain a fundamental understanding of not only how technology can be used to facilitate learning, but also how technology itself has begun to transform how learning occurs by developing the individual competencies of those who are savvy in its use. So, I extend my gratitude to both Kathy and my peers for helping provide me with rewarding experiences in these past few months!

References

Cheung, Simon K. S. “Students’ Typical Usage of Mobile Devices in Learning Activities.” In Technology in Education. Technology-Mediated Proactive Learning:

Howard, Sarah K., and Kate Thompson. “Seeing the System: Dynamics and Complexity of Technology Integration in Secondary Schools.” Education and Information Technologies 21, no. 6 (2016): 1877–94. doi:10.1007/s10639-015-9424-2.

Jewitt, C. (2013). Multimodality and digital technologies in the classroom. In Multilingualism and Multimodality (pp. 141-152). SensePublishers.

Lee, C. W. Y., Notari, M., Tavares, N. J., Chu, S. K. W., & Reynolds, R. B. (2016). 21st century skills development through inquiry-based learning: From theory to practice Springer.

Li, K. C. (2015, July). Technology-Mediated Learning: Status and Challenges in Perspective. In International Conference on Technology in Education (pp. 3-9). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Wang, Xiaoling, and Qiong Cai. “The Analysis of the Application of Cloud Computing in the Field of Basic Education.”

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