Thursday, 21 March 2013

2.0 Schools: Learning in the 21st Century

One of Canada’s most influential voices on the future of digital technology is Don Tapscott. The author of numerous books and articles on this topic, Tapscott has long been an admirer of Greenwood’s use of learning technology. In Growing Up Digital (2009), he referred to Greenwood as an excellent example of a “2.0 school.” Tapscott defines a 2.0 school as one which prioritizes learning over teaching, customization over a one-size fits all approach, and interactive learning over the broadcasting of information.

More recently, Tapscott was featured in a Globe and Mail interview in which he reiterated the need for schools and universities to work harder to transform themselves into 2.0 schools. According to Tapscott, “we have the best model of learning that 17th-century technology can provide.” For education to equip students to participate fully in the 21st century, Tapscott argues that schools must “use technology to free up instructors from transmitting information to curating customized learning experiences,” and have “learning occur through software programs, small group discussion and projects.”


One of the oft-expressed concerns about moving schools in this direction is that it will minimize the importance of the teacher or professor. However, Tapscott disputes this assumption. Instead, instructors will have greater opportunities to “listen and converse with students” and accordingly, will be better able to “tailor the education to their students’ individual learning styles.” This goal can be accomplished, according to Tapscott, by allowing computers “to provide instruction for anything that requires a right or wrong answer.”

Much of what he outlines in the article resonates with Greenwood’s current approach to personalized learning. Our blended learning approach allows students to use online resources to direct their learning and collaborate in both face-to-face and virtual media. Our use of Hapara in our student adviser program provides advisers with genuine opportunities to customize classroom programming for individual students. I am sure that if Don Tapscott were to revisit Greenwood, he would be impressed by how far we have come with digital learning since his earlier visit to our school seven years ago.

Our use of Hapara in our student adviser program provides advisers with genuine opportunities to customize classroom programming for individual students.

On a closing note, a recent editorial in The New York Times endorsed the use of blended or hybrid learning. Columbia University’s Community College Research Center released a study which tracked the results of 7 million students enrolled in online courses and concluded that students in these courses were more “likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes.” However, the Centre also found that students “in classes that blended online instruction with a face-to-face component performed as well academically as those in traditional classes.” This result was attributed to students’ need for engagement with their teachers.

Allan Hardy
Principal

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