The Prime Minister Of Trinidad And Tobago Education Essay

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A total of 17,835 pupils wrote SEA in 2012 and the years previous, 17,327 and 17,618 students ( 2010. www.moe.gov.tt/student_exam_sea.html) So approximately 53000 millennial students are all equipped with the tools for a digital society. But what about the educators? Most educators fall into the digital immigrant definition: Digital Immigrants are individuals who did not grow up with technology and adopted it later--much as an immigrant to a new land must learn a new language, new customs, etc. (Pensky 2001)

The advent of technology coupled with the current government's mass distribution has created a new dilemma in the educational system- how can Digital Immigrant teachers enhance the experiences of these Digital Natives. An examination of the foundation courses can assist in the enhancement of the learning culture at Secondary for the Digital natives.

Psychology is the foundation stone from which understanding of digital learning and its ramifications can be understood First one must examine the characteristics of digital learner vs. the digital immigrants - twitch speed, multi tasking, non linear approaches, processing discontinued information, iconic skills, connected collaborative, active learning by playing, instant payoff, fantasy ,technology as friend. Former Generations- conventional speed, mono tasking, linear approaches, processing single information flows, reading skills, stand alone, competitive, passive separating learning and playing , patience, reality, technology as foe.

Clearly current education system needs to respond to the new learning styles of the digital natives' generation. One way schools can respond to the challenges of a rapidly evolving information based society is replacing the chalk and talk mindset with the advent of willing digital immigrant teachers. The traditional concept of the 3 Rs have been replaced by the 5 Rs -

Relevance - Millennials do not typically value information for information's sake. One of the greatest challenges of the professoriate will be to connect course content to the current culture, and make learning outcomes and activities relevant to Millennial learners and their future.

Rationale - Unlike Boomers who were raised in a more authoritarian manner in which they more readily accept the chain of command, Millennials were raised in a non-authoritarian manner and are more likely to conform, comply, and adhere to course policies when they are provided with a rationale.

Relaxed - Millennials thrive in a less formal, more comfortable learning environment in which they can informally interact with the professor and one another.

Rapport - Millennials are extremely relational. They are more central to their parents' lives than previous generations and are used to having the adults in their lives show great interest in them. They appreciate it when professors show that same interest, and they seem to be more willing to pursue learning outcomes when we connect with them on a personal level.

Research-based methods - Millennials have grown up in an era in which they were constantly engaged. When they are not interested, their attention quickly shifts elsewhere. This research suggests Millennials prefer a variety of active learning methods, as opposed to a more traditional lecture-only format. ( Price Dalton State College)

Because the digital native environment is different from their teachers their thought process is affected and it is important that the education system provide for their learning needs. Prensky coined "Edutainment" - A new type of learning system that incorporates the technology of these new types of students. He insists that while learning is educational and it must be also fun. The same zeal and enthusiasm that they would give video games or music videos they will give lessons based on edutainment . So students' interest are retained because "it takes sharply focused attention to rewire a brain" (Prensky, 2001).

The techno tools are easily accessible such as Wikkipeda .Schools can create their own wiki learning space. Facebook was originally created as educational communication system and it blossomed into a mega social network. Currently on Facebook there is local teachers' group with over 3000 members (A Teacher's Voice founded 2011) where lesson plans , schemes of works , teaching tips and suggestions are shared. Whereas before one would have to go see a colleague at another school with groups such as these information is decimated more quickly thus fitting in with the Digital natives need for instantaneous information. With the need to separate professional from personal the Teachernet can be used instead of Facebook . Weebly offers free websites that teachers can use to update their classes. Cellphones can be used to send out homework assignments/ reminders. Techo-tools also offer variability for different types of learners e.g. Youtube for visual learners, Podcasts for auditory learners etc. The possibilities are endless.

The sheer vast potential brings to forward multitasking but not necessarily in a good light. "The Millennial multitasker may have the ability to text talk, do homework and listen to music, but that does not mean they are efficiently retaining information needed. Several studies gauging the effectiveness of multitasking and learning have shown that learning does suffer when one is attempting to process several layers of unrelated information at once.…although the multitasking [does not] necessarily harm short-term memory, it [does] cause the information to be more difficult to retrieve at a later time." McAlister, Andrea "Teaching the Millennial Generation." One must bear in mind The "multimedia principle" states that "people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone" (Mayer, p. 47).  This theory proposes three main assumptions when it comes to learning with multimedia:

There are two separate channels (auditory and visual) for processing information (

Each channel has a limited (finite) capacity

Learning is an active process of filtering, selecting, organizing, and integrating information based upon prior knowledge.

Mayer emphasizes the importance of learning (based upon the testing of content and demonstrating the successful transfer of knowledge) when new information is integrated with prior knowledge.

Language for the intent of this paper will be defined as a system of communication with its own set of conventions or special words.(Encarta Dictionary English) With the metaphor of natives and immigrants there is also an implication of difference of language. Each group will have their own language base and that gap will have to be bridged to augment the learning experience. Digital Immigrant teachers are deemed to "speak an outdated language, are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language" (Prensky, 2001). The obvious premise is that a teacher that cannot speak the language cannot teach 'in' the language and reach the natives. Prensky states 'Today's teachers have to learn to communicate in the language and style of their students.' Without changing the meaning of what are important or impairing thinking skills. 'But it does mean going faster, less step-by step, more in parallel, with more random access, among other things.'(Prensky 2001)

How can we bridge the cultural and linguistic divide separating today's teachers from their students? According to Prensky, Digital Immigrants are attempting to teach the Digital Natives with methods that are no longer valid; the only choice may be for educators to change the way they teach. "Unfortunately," he says, "no matter how much the Immigrants may wish it, it is highly unlikely the Digital Natives will go backwards. In the first place, it may be impossible-their brains may already be different" ( Prensky 2001)

The solution Prensky presented is to learn the language of the Natives, to speed up teaching, and to provide "random access" (Prensky 2001) Prensky argues for a combination of educational content as well. He defines reading, writing, and logical thinking as "legacy content" and advocates merging with "future content" consisting of "digital and technological" advancements.

Prensky's personal approach to this issue is the use of edutainment. According to Prensky, most if not all content can be taught in this way. He believes that one can "… invent computer games to do the job, even for the most serious content' Prensky even states '. . . just dumb (and lazy) of educators-not to mention ineffective-to presume that (despite their traditions) the Digital Immigrant way is the only way to teach, and that the Digital Natives' "language" is not as capable as their own of encompassing any and every idea.'

The concept of language as a barrier in a creole speaking environment is not new and teachers will also have to take into consideration that the digital natives here L1 is creole and their digital language will express as such. From universal acronyms lol (laugh out loud ) smh (shaking my head) to local idioms such as ded (dead) or wdj (what de jail) the digital immigrant teacher will encounter such acronyms. Awareness, willingness to learn and use will help bridge the gap as students will perceive the educator as relatable. Immersion is a possible solution. Language immersion is an approach to foreign language instruction in which the usual curricular activities are conducted in a foreign language. This means that the new language is the medium of instruction as well as the object of instruction. (http://www.bi-lingual.com/school/INFO/WhatIsImmersion.html)

Digital immigrants will acquire the necessary language skills to understand and communicate about the subject matter set out in the native's program of instruction. The most commonly used definition of immersion comes from Fred Genesee of McGill University, one of the world's leading authorities on immersion education. On page one of his seminal book "Learning Through Two Languages: Studies in Immersion and Bilingual Education" (1987, Newbury House) he provides the preceding definition of immersion:.

Philosophy and Educational Philosophy (Winch & Gingell 2004) states that education is a preparation for life. 'The human activity of preparation for life' There is further division of the preparation for life; the liberal, civic, and vocational aspects. Liberal - concerns the individual his potential, his community interactions, and individual choices. Civic involves the individual as a citizen and his contribution to wider society and finally Vocational - the individual as an agent of economic activity.

The rise of the world wide web and digital immigrants and natives have created a need for a new vision of teaching and learning but the same basic humanitarian principles. A reflective teacher embodies such qualities 'An empowered teacher is a reflective decision maker who finds joy in learning and in investigating the teaching/learning process-one who views learning as construction and teaching as a facilitating process to enhance and enrich development.'( Fosnot 1989)

Philosophy highlights the ethos of a school as a necessary component of a 'good' school.

'The connective tissue that sustains these relationships- whether it is trust, encouragement, mutual respect, cooperation, collaboration, and selfishness, or mistrust, fear, power, manipulation, competition, and antagonism- has a powerful character shaping influence. In sum the ethos of a school has both an inevitable and a potentially permanent educational power' (Ryan& Bohlin , 2000, p. 312). The concept of a digital space can be formed to complement the physical ethos of a school. Many schools have established Facebook pages that both past and present students can interact. Whether by reminiscing or networking. Information can be shared about upcoming events like school plays and sport events. It can be used to instill a sense of pride and belonging. Reaching out on a consistent manner to current students, alumni and staff .Which would have been difficult without the internet.

Sociology of Education examines the learning experiences of all types. The learning experience is supposed to benefit the society so "21st century skills" are the goal for a digital native society. Trilling & Fadel (2009) believe that these skills entail -critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and innovation, flexibility, adaptability, initiative, self-direction, social and cross-cultural interaction and responsibility. Creativity is also an essential skill which was not needed when the purpose of school was to 'manufacture' workers. Education's main goal was to disseminate the behavioral skills needed in the industrial society. (E.g. Herrington, Reeves & Oliver 2010, Solomon & Schrum 2007) With the rise human creativity as a desirable trait the 21st worker is now 'to think independently, apply standard approaches in unique ways to fit a new type of situation, exercise judgment and try out radically new solutions to complex problems' (Florida 2002). So the digital immigrant teacher must seek learning theories that best fit this new paradigm.

Therefore the constructivist concept of teaching would be ideal in a digital learning environment a practitioner who:

• Believes all knowledge is constructed or invented by the learner

• Involves learners in active manipulations of meanings, numbers, and

patterns.

• Believes learning is nonlinear

• Provides students with the tools of empowerment: concepts, heuristic

procedures, self-motivation, and reflection

• Believes learning occurs most effectively through guided discovery

Cooperative learning can also be used by Digital Natives education enhancement. (Aronson,Blaney, Stephan, Sikes, & Snapp, 1978; Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1991;Slavin, 1983). Cooperative interactive learning can benefit Both Digital teachers and learners by:

• Increasing achievement through collaboration

• Improving relations among diverse learners (gender, age, culture, ethnicity)

• Developing problem-solving skills

• Fostering democratic processes in learning.

Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) is a Skills-based Health and Family Life Education

(HFLE) is about promoting the development of health knowledge, social and emotional competencies and behaviours needed for life. Health Education has been defined by (Green et al1980) as "any combination of learning experiences designed to facilitate voluntary adaptations of behaviour conducive to health." With the digi-learners and teachers can be thought by using a variety of learning experiences, The following HFLE component can be directly applied to the techo-environment that Caribbean digital natives are now exposed to : 1)All human activity has environmental consequences will pertain to cyber-bullying and the posting of sensitive information 2) Access to, and current use of technologies have had an unprecedented negative impact on the environment rise of sexting (pornographic pictures sent via text or social networks) among teenagers is a prime example of abuse of technology with regards to the Digital native's environment. 3) Human beings are capable of making the greatest range of responses to the environment in terms of changing, adapting, preserving, enhancing or destroying it- With HFLE Digital immigrants can use all the technological resources available to enhance the responses e.g using Google Earth to show the effect of pollution on the physical environment or youtube with different social situations documented

( September 11th 2012 HFLE Caribbean youth making better choices in life

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tnboaUAIX)

The instructional resources that make up the HFLE's core that will further enhance a digital native's learning environment are :

• Active learning

• Team Building (Provide all students with opportunities for participation, recognition, and successful achievement in order to foster confidence and self-acceptance

• Provide opportunities for all students to practice the life skills

• Allowance for varied patterns of interaction among students and between students and teacher

• Direction for students towards the use of available technology

Teachers through HFLE will use general and lesson-specific advice to support learning, based on current research on learning styles and effective instruction.

Conclusion

As exciting the advent of new technology and keeping with the government's desire to equip students with the basics of a technological based lifestyles. There are quite a few drawbacks with the fact that less than 50% (39.5%)of the population has internet access. (Source http://www.internetworldstats.com/car/tt.htm 12/09/11) Realistically there are daunting limitations for example at Barataria South Secondary the infrastructure isn't capable of handle the 24 classes equipped with laptops and currently there isn't any wifi or internet available to teachers or students. The low socio-economic background of most students also bring to fore the unavailability of internet at home. Local libraries offer free internet services and memory sticks can help with equitable distribution of knowledge. Consideration includes pragmatic issues of technology access and issues about stakeholders' expectations and experiences with technology integration. Reliable access is an important issue.

As previously discussed under the psychology foundation, here is also the fact that multitasking and retention do not go hand in hand. The challenge of engaging digital natives in a limited technological classroom is great. Today's digital natives expect more facilitation from teachers than before(Tapscott, 1998, 2008) learn best through trial and error, process information quickly, connect with graphics before text, and require relevance in their learning ( Prensky, 2001).

Solutions can be found within seconds using Google or other search engines. Youtube can help with difficult mathematical concepts. Electronic forums or social networks allow them to share information easily or request it. Previous patterns of learning have been transformed by readily accessible technologies

Prensky (2001) asserted that there is an increasing and worrisome mismatch between the natural capacities and interests of digital natives and the forms of literacy taught in schools. The key would be authentic engagement. Schlechty (2005) described authentic engagement as students as being attracted to their work, persisting despite challenges and obstacles, and taking visible delight in accomplishing that work. As such, traditional measures of engagement should be stretched to include the "meaning and significance the student attaches to the tasks he or she is assigned" (Schlechty, 2001, p. 68). Some Educators believe that the key to engaging learners is to bridge the gap between natives and immigrants (Buckingham, 2007) by integrating more technology into the classroom.

A possible solution is blended learning Blended learning in educational research or pilot training refers to a mixing of different learning environments. It combines traditional face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities. According to its proponents, the strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and learners. Formerly, technology-based materials played a supporting role to face-to-face instruction. Through a blended learning approach, technology will be more important.

In other circumstances, a greater reliance on technology within the classroom may occur. Activities may be structured around access to online resources, communication via social media or interaction with distance learners in other classrooms or other learning environments. Currently the Postgraduate Diploma in Education uses the blended concept with the Digital immigrants who are students and it is effective in the broader sense because these same teachers will adapt the same approach for their digital native classes. Technology, like any educational innovation, is not a band-aid for educational woes. With the global community shrinking and technology increasing rapidly, Educators should be committed to equipping themselves and their charges for the future.

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