5. Hybrid Education
Isaac Asimov: “Science and Creativity in Education”
When teacher F. Margret Atkinson first heard about the Digital Workforce Initiative at LITE, she immediately felt she was getting involved with a powerful new approach to taking creativity and technology to a new level with her students.
While her students worked together in groups at LITE, she discussed their various needs, the span in their ages, ability levels, expectations, socioeconomic and cultural categories. Atkinson’s travel schedule between schools that share her time in the region is dizzying.
To Atkinson, each student learns differently and yet must be prepared for the future, ready for work and meaningful participation in society. She sees technology as an extension of creativity and capacity for critical thought. A modern classroom isn’t just four walls, she said, but rather a home base from which the world beyond can be explored.
“A teacher’s role is to expand and change with the changing times, delivering what each kid needs in the way he or she needs it,” says Atkinson with a smile. Her jovial demeanor is unflappable in person, in texts, in emails or via video chat, even when she’s jet-lagged or logging more miles than Santa Claus zig-zagging around the state.
Atkinson doesn’t limit her view of technology to particular platforms, but remains open to new ideas about which platforms might be appropriate at different times for different reasons. She acknowledges that this isn’t easy, but she views it as a necessity. When she recently joined a delegation of teachers on a trip to Germany, Israel and Poland to learn about ways to teach the Holocaust, for example, she blogged about her experience and used Skype and Twitter to communicate.
“As we get further away from a historical event,” Atkinson explained from Israel via Skype, “greater perspective is gained” she recounted from an earlier lecture by the educational director.
As part of the learning project, the group conducted multimedia interviews with Holocaust survivors, many of which would be uploaded to sites like YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to share with a wider community of educators. Atkinson’s Cajun students are also descended from victims of genocide, so she looks for ways to contextualize the specific circumstances of each period of history but also to broaden the scope to take a wider look at humanity.
“Technology,” she said, “is an immensely helpful asset in this quest.”
How do you use technology in the classroom?