Learning environments are no longer silent places. They are abuzz with energy and excitement. In many of today’s classrooms, students use technology to collaborate and explore ideas using mobile devices, tablets, laptops or computers, and even interactive whiteboards. Students are producing evidence of their learning and publishing it – in the cloud, on social media and with 3-D printers. 

An innovative approach

Teachers also are approaching learning with fresh ideas about what learning looks like in a digital environment. Many educators are boldly embracing technology in their practice to motivate students, and to help them develop skills critical to being lifelong learners and leaders. 

Look around and you will likely find that educators who are transforming instructional practices are also advancing learning; in most instances, technology is a central tool. 

New learning opportunities

Imagine fifth-graders taking their mobile devices on a field trip to a local forest preserve where they are recording data and images of nature for a collaborative science project on their local ecology. Or think about second-graders in Kansas using their tablets and Internet connectivity to collaborate with their peers in Turkey on a project examining the commonalities and differences in their cultures. Those types of creative learning opportunities are happening in classrooms around the country every day, and those students are building critical thinking, creativity and collaboration skills while also making progress toward rigorous standards.

Today’s apps and digital tools also present endless opportunities for developing 21st century skills. Technology is allowing learners of all ages to turn into “makers,” leveraging the tools at their fingertips to develop creative solutions to real-world problems. Middle school students in Virginia are using CAD software and a 3-D printer to create an assistive learning tool so one of their classmates can use a tablet device. Second graders in California are learning to write code and build their own apps, including games, animations, interactive stories and puzzles. At the center of each is an educator who has taken bold steps forward to try new teaching strategies to enhance learning.

A community of learners

"Let’s continue to build a community of learners – among students and adults – that examines how learning and teaching can look to realize the vast benefits of technology."

Technology is also changing the instructional model in classrooms around the country. No longer is the teacher the “sage on the stage.” In “flipped classrooms,” instruction is delivered to students at home via the web in the evenings, and class time is used for collaboration, individualized and small-group interaction. In classrooms around the world, educators are using the ISTE Standards to support the transformation of learning, teaching and leading in their connected classrooms. 

Got technology? Great. Let’s continue to build a community of learners – among students and adults – that examines how learning and teaching can look to realize the vast benefits of technology. Let’s create a connected world and prepare students for success by transforming learning through technology.