The K-12 curriculum in our country encourages a constructivist approach in educating the millennial students. They are expected to construct their own meaning through active engagement and by constructing their own representation of what they know (Juniu, 2006). Moreover, instead of being mere recipients of information transmitted by a teacher, they interact with the environment and create their own interpretation of the world. This is where technology will best come in. The gadgets, mobile or not, and the net combined are both interesting tools and playgrounds by which students can obtain, build and interpret their own knowledge differently. Further, this knowledge can be easily shared to their peers who speak and understand the same language together.
Where does an educator, particularly a science educator, fit in? The key word I think is “cohabitation”. With this term, I mean, that the teacher understands where the students are in terms of their interests and lingoes, and exerts all efforts to blend in the technological world they live in. For instance, instead of just demonstrating how to factor perfect square trinomials, the teacher might consider exploring some YouTube videos with animations and “down-to-earth” explanations, watch these clips, and allow students to choose freely how they can learn best either independently or collaboratively. Since there are new findings available out there, science textbooks might also contain outdated facts that the net can provide. Students like to know what’s new. This is the best time to guide and encourage them to be active learners, that is, mining as much information there are from reputable websites. And together, build a database of materials including but not limited to photos, videos, podcasts and the like.
Integrating new technologies in the classroom would also require a teacher to be skilled or proficient to keep up with the demands of our educational system. The old adage “you cannot give what you do not have” applies. Giving the learners performance-based tasks such as sharing the process and results of a science experiment through a PowerPoint presentation with embedded clips and high-resolution images should also imply that the teacher knows how to make one. Mathematical investigation activities like discovering patterns and formula for Pythagorean triples requiring a programming language can be given if the math teacher is familiar with such software. What I want to drive at is that while computer-based tools would help students to be more creative and analytic, every teacher has to exert double-time to be technologically adept as well coupled with willingness and commitment to be trained.
One great advantage, perhaps, about our technology nowadays is how a science educator can now conduct classes even without being there inside the classroom. The existence of learning management sites such as the Edmodo extends the time by which students can interact with one another, ask questions from their teacher, contribute to discussions, and submit requirements even when at home. Classes can be done through live or streaming videos from Skype or Facebook. Projects can be done in the form of games or any similar apps for mobile devices. The only thing lacking I believe is FOCUS on the part of the youngsters. With many distractions competing for their attention, the assumed desired competencies may not be met. This is where the real challenge lies. But assessment techniques, perhaps, may be modified to precisely gauge how the students performed and finished a task.
In closing, teachers have to profoundly adjust or even change how they teach, their pedagogy, in order to be successful in integrating technology to their respective classes. Also, a great deal of caution has to be taken in the selection, design, delivery, and application of appropriate and effective technologies to maintain and sustain the enthusiasm of their students. Technology is a valuable tool ONLY IF teachers capitalize on how it works towards raising the standards of the quality of education we should have.
Juniu, S. (2006). Use of technology for constructivist learning in a performance assessment class. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 10(1), 67-78.