The benefits of technology for enhanced student engagement and student achievement are endless and without boundary. I truly believe that we can use technology as a key tool to differentiate our teaching / learning process and to meet the individual needs of students within any diverse classroom. Not only can we better serve the multiple intelligences of students, but we can serve them within the world they are so familiar. As excited as I am about the digital revolution and its role in education, I have found that there are equally as many that are skeptical, and some that are just downright intimidated or afraid.

Right off the bat, it is difficult to incorporate large amounts of technology into any classroom on a regular basis due to the budget constraints that plague public education. There just isn’t enough money to go around. This reality continues to cause barriers in regards to technological access for students and teachers.

That being said, the number one barrier to the seamless integration of technology into the teaching/ learning process, and for assessment / reporting, is the cultural mind-shift that is necessary to make it work. As an English teacher, the curricular, and traditional emphasis is literacy. The definition of this often rests within the traditional confines of written text. My vision of an English department maintains this imperative skill, but extends the concept of literacy to the more prevalent 21st century multiple, and emerging literacies that are a product of a digital age: graphic/visual literacy, oral/gestural literacy, and digital/media literacy to name a few. The digital world has changed the way we read, receive, and interpret any text (written or otherwise) and has important implications for the way students construct or write their own texts. Understanding these emerging literacies, their effects, and the real world of the student, will help all of us, as educators, to better meet the needs of our students, engage them in their studies and, ultimately, enhance their achievement.

This video highlights the dawn of a necessary mind-shift in educating the 21st Century Student

In essence, we need to acculturate ourselves to a new reality, a new ethnography, and a new world. In anthropological terms, our students are no longer passive observers of curricular content. They are active participants – part of a digital participatory culture. Let’s engage our students as collaborative partners in the teaching / learning process. As a collaborative team with a shared committment, we can all work to better engage our students and increase their ability to reach their potential through achievement. Let’s start the shift!

Some Interesting Resources:

Alexander, Jonathan. Digital Youth: Emerging Literacies on the World Wide Web (New Dimensions in Computers and Composition). New Jersey: Hampton Press, 2005. Print. (Hampton Press)

Collins, Allan. Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teacher’s College Press, 2009. Print. (Amazon)

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: NYU Press, 2008. Print. (Amazon)

Jenkins, Henry. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning). New York: MIT Press, 2009. Print. (Amazon)