As educational leaders, classroom teachers, parents and students will agree, 21st century teaching carries with it a complicated mix of challenges and demands. Challenges include teacher turnover, student expectations, classroom behavior management, mounting budget pressures and intense demand to build students' 21st century skills.
On the demanding side of the equation, the growing capacity, capability, and power of technology-based tools and resources give the education community the ability to address these challenges successfully. With tactical use of 21st century learning tools, educational institutions can provide the supportive productive environment educators need to reach, teach and support each student's learning needs and potential.
This paper will examine two key aspects: Information communication technology, and classroom behavior management. Each will examine the ways the issues impact on student learning and how they contribute to creating a positive and effective learning environment.
For centuries, schools have been structured and perceived as places for teaching. The challenge in the 21st century is restructuring schools as learning places for both students and teachers. Technology's role in the transformation is critical and valuable in creating learning environments that support teacher efficacy, productivity, and professional practice.
Arguments have been raised that Information communication technology (ICT) is a mediator of learning as a component of the learning environment. While it may be somewhat difficult to measure the impact of ICT in schools and its effectiveness in learning, it is possible to suggest ways it impacts on the connection between ICT as a learning mediator with researched theories of learning and strategies for providing learning opportunities. The committee on developments in the science of learning completed an exercise and concluded that "several groups have reviewed the literature on technology and learning and concluded that it has great potential to enhance student achievement and teacher learning, but only if it is used appropriately" (2000, p.206)
There are four key characteristics of computer technology: logical programming, graphics and audio output, interactive control, and information processing. There are many ways in which these aspects have shown to support students and teachers in creating a positive and effective learning environment. However, the degree in which these should be practiced depends on the developmental age, personal characteristics of the student, and the characteristics of the learning environment and the nature of the curriculum content.
MOTIVATION and challenge
Different researchers have come to conclude that positive attitudes towards learning are on an increase with student use of computers engaging students by motivation and challenge. Deaney. R., and Hennessy. S., found that all of the teachers and almost all of their colleagues; whom were included in their study, considered the practices of ICT to be of great success in terms of motivating and enhancing students learning (Deaney. R, and Hennessy. S, 2007- journal 3). By computer systems providing the opportunity to create a wide range of interesting learning experiences, this is more likely to maintain the level of student interest and also interest a wider range of students.
The most challenging part of secondary teaching is to create an opportunity for students to be active participants instead of them being apart of passive education. Kinesthetic and 'hand on' learning does not only engage and interest students but it also can assist them in achieving a wider range or learning outcomes. ( ). Incorporation of Information and communication technologies (ICT) gives educators an opportunity to enforce active learning and there for support students in collecting and creating their own ideas. The influence of Technology on our youths has grown rapidly. The integration of ICT's such as Computer software can be used to provide students with learning experiences where they are interacting and involved in positive learning . Cooperative learning can also be created within an ICT integrated classroom. Due to activities such as blogs, and specific school and internet programs students are given opportunities to interact together in order develop new skills and reach specific goals.
Provide Tools to Increase Student Productivity
In the past students have spent a lot of time doing repetitive, low-level tasks particularly involving writing, drawing and computation. While it may be necessary for students to develop these skills at some time on most occasions they are pre-requisite to some higher level task. Unnecessary repetition of low-level tasks is inefficient, non-motivational and may obscure the real purpose of the learning activity. Many computer applications provide the tools to support students in quickly completing these lower-level tasks so that they can focus on the main purpose of the activity. Word processors, graphics packages, database packages, spreadsheets and other software support the performance of students. The use of scaffolds and tools can help students to solve problems that may have previously been considered to be too difficult for them (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000). Studies have shown that students often learn more in less time, that is their productivity increases, when they use computer support appropriately (Schacter, 1999). Such scaffolding tools are often referred to as Electronic Performance Support Software (EPSS).
Provide Scaffolding to Support Higher Level Thinking
There is an increasing range of software tools which can be used to support the development of higher level thinking skills such as application, analysis and synthesis (Réginald Grégoire inc. et al., 1996; Riel, 1998; The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, 2001). Tools can be used to analyse data, present data, link data or information, present information in different formats, simulate environments and conditions, and support interactive communications (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000). This allows teachers to consider providing a range of activities to assist students to become critical thinkers, designers and problem solvers (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000). Computer systems provide a wider range of motivating situations in which students can develop and apply these higher level thinking skills and provide opportunities to develop 'deep knowledge' (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000; Schacter, 1999).
Increasing Learner Independence
Computer systems are increasingly being used to provide learning experiences when and where they are needed. This provides students with greater independence not only in terms of when and where they learn but also what they learn (Cradler & Bridgforth, 2002). It is not necessary for all students to do the same thing at the same time. Teachers may provide students with access to software allowing students to select different learning experiences. The class does not have to be treated as one group. Individuals or groups of students may consider learning topics independently of the teacher (Réginald Grégoire inc. et al., 1996). This is often discussed in terms of lifelong learning, learner-driven learning or project-based learning (Riel, 1998). ICT tools can be used to create records of thoughts and support Impact of ICT on Learning & Teaching Page 22 of 73 Dr C. Paul Newhouse reflection and assessment of progress (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000).
Collaborative and Cooperative Learning
Researchers have found that typically the use of ICT leads to more cooperation among learners within and beyond school and a more interactive relationship between students and teachers (Réginald Grégoire inc. et al., 1996). Collaboration is a philosophy of interaction and personal lifestyle where individuals are responsible for their actions, including learning and respect the abilities and contributions of their peers. Cooperation is a structure of interaction designed to facilitate the accomplishment of a specific end product or goal through people working together in groups. Studies have found that ICT provides good support for team-based project work (The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, 2001). The use of ICT to support collaborative and cooperative learning is extrapolated to the support of a learning community (Riel, 1998).
Tailoring Learning to the Learner
In most traditional learning situations it is not possible to provide each student with an instructor and for that instructor to specially design learning experiences for that student.
The closest to this is the apprenticeship system. The programmability and interactivity possible with computer systems provides the opportunity to develop software which simulates the role of an instructor. Intelligent tutoring software may use information about the student to recommend appropriate sequences or sections of a tutorial for the student. Many studies have found that using computer-based instruction can increase achievement scores by at least one standard deviation although this is not uniform nor consistent across all areas of study (Schacter, 1999). The ideal is that the software allows the student and/or teacher to tailor the learning experiences to suit the individual student (Cradler & Bridgforth, 2002). Each student may encounter different experiences when using the same piece of software. The technology has been used successfully for teachers to give students feedback that is more timely and more individual (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000). Assessment of learning can use more demanding methods and better diagnose the needs of learners (Réginald Grégoire inc. et al., 1996). The use of online technologies is often used to provide more individualised programmes (Eadie, 2000). Computer software can also be used to support children who require individual learning programmes (e.g. gifted, distance education or remedial). Students can be provided with computer support for learning activities tailored to their individual needs. Studies have shown increased achievement in special needs children when computers are used (Schacter, 1999).
Overcome Physical Disabilities
The variety of input and output devices available provide the opportunity for students who are physically handicapped to be involved in the same learning activities as other students. For some students computers provide the only environment which they can manipulate and the only tools that reduce their level of disability. Modified keyboards and mouse-drivers may be used to allow extremely handicapped students to use regular software packages.
Classroom behavior management:
Students often bring problems to school that originate in other areas of their lives. Teachers must learn to recognize these problems and learn to deal with them effectively rather than contributing to them (Classroom discipline and management an Australasian perspective, pg 4). William Glasser is one of the greatest educational thinkers during the 20th and 21st Century. He contends that student behavior will not improve until educators and administrators change the way they work with students. Trying to force students to learn behavior responsibly is hopeless because it is contrary to their natural inclinations. Â Glasser believes all human behavior is purposeful. Theses students are lacking one of the five genetic needs- survival, safety, and security; love, belonging and acceptance; personal power, competency and achievement; freedom, independence or autonomy and finally fun and learning. Students then misbehave in an attempt to satisfy these needs. We can not blame anyone else but ourselves for good or improper behavior.
Glasser goes on to emphasis that developing respect, responsibility and problem solving are central to the philosophy of a lead-managed classroom. A lead-managed classroom is where the teacher has the skill to persuade the learners without threat to accept the teacher's agenda, work hard at it and do a quality job (Classroom discipline and management an Australasian perspective, pg 144). The teacher will need to recognize the students that demonstrate poor behavior and will attempt to balance all their needs. Students who lack competency, fun and learning for instance will need strategies to promote positive behavior and control. The teacher may incorporate ICT and use of smart technology to make learning fun and engaging. Students today are heavily reliant and familiar with technology and so adapting to what they already know provides those students who are challenged with education more interest and comfort leading to fewer disruptions in class. It is clear that teaching is seen as challenging and demanding however based on Glasser's theories, with the right teaching tactics and a well developed understanding of a student's behavioral issue these challenges can be targeted.
To modify behavior teachers will also need to implement positive and negative reinforcement in a classroom to help create positive and effective learning. BF Skinner was another theorist who believed that adults have to properly reinforce desirable behavior. Reinforcement will increase the strength of a desired behavior in the classroom, where a student will increase appropriate positive behavior by introduction of rewards (Positive reinforcement) and withhold of punishments (Negative reinforcement). For example if a student is continuously answering questions, behaving and responding accordingly; a merit award can be granted to encourage the good behavior. If a misbehaved student attends to class work and is on their best behavior, homework which may be seen as a negative aspect for that student can be eliminated to encourage and motivate them to continue to behave.