Educating students in the 21st century and preparing them for 21st century professions has its own unique promises as well as pitfalls. Technology that did not exist 5 years ago, 1 year ago, or for that matter, last month can be seen proliferating the pages of Google or Amazon. No longer do applications necessarily have to be installed on computers. With internet access, most programs are available on-line; and while there are the the Microsoft vs Apple camps, on-line access to most applications have created a ‘device agnostic’ environment. In other words, like an automobile, it doesn’t matter what type you drive, it still gets you to your destination.
Many students now have 24-7 access to information on a global scale. They also have increasing access to on-line textbooks, with the advantage that these textbooks can be much more frequently updated and are much more cost-effective.
That said, what is the most effective way of educating the 21st century student? Most certainly, the days of blackboards and chalk are gone, replaced by interactive boards connected to laptops. The use of paper and pencil is also diminishing, and in a lot of schools cursive writing is no longer being taught in favor of ‘keyboarding’.
At the Kennett Consolidated School District, more and more emphasis is being placed on Individualized Learning and the Flipped Classroom. The concept of individualized and personalized learning focuses on students being encouraged to learn at their own pace and to their own preferences. The concept of a flipped classroom basically reverses the traditional learning methodology: students watch prepared lectures/videos/etc. on their own time and use classroom time for “homework” and problem-solving. The concept of blended learning involves some of the traditional classroom as well on-line content.
Some of the on-line applications currently being used at KCSD include: Mathseeds, (Mathematics), Accelerated Reader (Reading and Vocabulary) used in grades K through 8; ALEKS (Mathematics) used in grades 1 through 12; CDT-DRC (Classroom Diagnostic Tools)(Mathematics, English, Science) used in grades 3 through 8; DIBELS (Reading) used in grades K through 5; Exact Path-Edmentum [Project Sunrise](Reading, Science) used in grades K through 3; National Geographic (Science) used in grades K through 5; Pearson SuccessNet (Science) used in grades 6 through 8; ConnectED (Mathematics) used in grades 6 through 12 and (Social Studies) in grades 6 through 8).