Tools for 21st Century Teachers (by Nour Alkhalidy)
Living in a complex, rapid, digital environment, and having a digital-savvy generation that has grown up in this environment, requires us as educators to be aware of changes and challenges and to bring new tools and technologies into our classrooms.
Implementing web 2.0 tools in the classroom can be the key to preparing our students and preparing ourselves as learners to be ready for these changes.
According to ATCS21, every educator has to consider the importance of promoting 10 skills in the classroom, including creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, learning to learn, metacognition, communication, and collaboration (teamwork).
According to Partnership for 21st Century Skills, educators should be aware of the increasing need for four skills in the new global world as an essential element in the 21st century framework for student success.
These skills are often called the 4Cs: Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity.
All these skills are essential for students to be able to survive in the world beyond the classroom, and as teachers our role is to develop these skills and help students in mastering them.
Engaging Web 2.0 tools in the classroom can enable us to effectively teach these skills. Understanding and using Web 2.0 have become critical 21st century skills, according to this case study from elearning papers. Many web 2.0 apps incorporate and are dedicated to promoting one or more skills, for example, by using a mind map web2.0 tool teachers can enhance creative and critical thinking, by using a tool with features like adding pictures, videos or text can enhance creativity, sharing the work place with others and will lead to more communication and will effectively increase students’ collaboration and communication skills. All of these different ways can help us to meet students` challenges in the twenty-first century.
I have experienced teaching with many web 2.0 tools, and it was very hard to decide which ones were better than others, but I came up with several tools that I use frequently with my students and in my career life. They are all free, they all promote 4Cs for my students, and they all support my native language.
Popplet is a free, easy web 2.0 tool for sharing and collaborating, which joins sticky notes, mind maps, multi-media and social networks.
Ideas for using Popplet in the classroom:
- Sticky notes can be easily posted in a work area which can be expanded with more notes in order to add more ideas. Therefore, Popplet can be used in brainstorming sessions for more creative ideas.
- Having the sharing option with social media and multimedia options (like YouTube, Flickr, etc.) will enhance collaborative projects and creativity.
- The ability to make lines between ideas to arrange ideas helps encourage critical thinking in addition to recalling vocabulary. Mind maps are an effective way to learn a language because of the ability to use both parts of the brain using pictures with words.
Two of the important skills to be taught in the 21st century are communication and collaboration, and social networks are a great way to communicate and collaborate with others in the classroom, the school, or with others all over the world. It surely removes the classroom walls.
Social networks like Twitter and Facebook are the kind of technology that is an integral part of the lives of today’s students. They are familiar to students and therefore can be easily implemented by teachers, plus students will feel more comfortable, and will enjoy the learning process using them.
Teachers can also bridge the generation gap between themselves and their students using Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, having conversations, asking questions, giving feedback, and other educational concerns.
Twitter is a free, easy micro-blogging tool that provides several opportunities for students and teachers alike.
Ideas for using Twitter in the classroom:
- To discover new communities and cultures, and to reflect on their learning, to chat with other students from other grades, or with students from other schools from all over the world using hashtags, and also to learn languages by telling short–140 character– creative stories, to enhance classroom discussions by, setting up back channels which allow students to comment, ask questions, talk to experts, and to collaborate!
- Every student is heard in the classroom; students will be more confident and have more self independence. Twitter can give your students a voice.
- For me as a teacher Twitter is an effective 24/7 professional development tool and a great tool to use in building personal learning networks (PLN). In addition to a Twitter account, these important combinations are a must for professional development: TweetDeck + SocialBookmarking (like Diigo) + PLN + educational hashtags.
Wordle is a tool to create text clouds or word clouds in a visualization of word frequency in a given text as a weighted list. Having words arranged in various shapes and colors would surely help students to remember some important words in the classroom.
Ideas for using Wordle in the classroom:
- Words clouds can be used as an idea generator for any topic, or turning an article or essay, or work group discussions into a poster which you can hang on the wall, or print as a book cover for a project.
- Have students use the words to made a complete sentence or to tell a story for creative thinking prompts, just like the “random-input” creative technique,
- Have students summarize the ideas of a lesson using keywords or create a word cloud to introduce new topics, or record the resulting words from a brainstorming session.
- Students can write their own goals and attitudes to encourage them to improve themselves, or you can describe negative and positive attitudes and behavior for each student and put it as a feedback or an assessment tool in their e-portfolio.
New millennium learners may be digital natives but are not by definition effective learners, and its our duty to harness their skills and teach them how to use them the best way and in the right places in order to achieve curriculum outcomes, and make learning more exciting and enjoyable, and to open doorways to creativity for our students!
Thanks for Barbara for giving me the chance to write a guest post. It is such a great honor for me. 🙂
Note: This article by Nour Alkhalidy originally appeared on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.