Recently, Jon Samuelson and I were having a conversation and he asked me, “What do you see as the big 'game changer' in education?”
I hate this question (as I think Jon does as well). You hear things like MOOC's, tablets, the Flipped Classroom, coding, gaming, social media, blah blah blah, and how they are going to change everything that we do. If you are going to pick a single “thing” that is a game-changer in education, it is the Internet. This is not just for education, but for everything. Honestly though, this is years ago and I think that many of understand the opportunities the “World Wide Web” has provided to us in so many facets of our life. That being said, that “game changer” has already happened.
The real game changer isn't something external; it is internal. It is the way we think and grow. It is moving from that “fixed” mindset about teaching and learning, and moving to the “growth” mindset. It is thinking differently about education and understanding that all of us as people need different things to succeed. To some students, the “Flipped” model is hugely beneficial, while to some others, gaming is going to push their learning to a new level. Some learn better in isolation, while others excel in collaboration. There is no single “thing” that is a game changer. If there was, we would have figured it out and adopted it by now. We have to stop looking for standardized solutions to try and personalize learning. Our mindset towards teaching and learning has to be open to many approaches, not any single one.
If I was standing in front of you and speaking, I would say the following:
The biggest game changer in education is not out there (as I point all around me). It is in here (as I point to my head, but symbolizing all of our brains, not just mine) and has ALWAYS been in here (pointing to my chest, around the heart area).
I am not trying to be hokie, but I am sharing what I believe. Change is the one constant that we will always have in our world and if we do not grow and learn to embrace it, then we will become irrelevant. This mindset towards learning is only one part of the solution; making the connections with our learners is also equally (if not more) significant.
Do we need to look at all of these new “trends” in learning? Absolutely. This is not an anti-technology rant. In fact, it is the opposite. Innovative teaching starts with innovative thinking. We have to look at all of these things around us, ask questions, learn, be open to the opportunities that many different technologies give to us and our students, and help them work for our kids.
The “game changer” is, and always will be, being open to new learning opportunities, doing something with them, and making that human connection to our learners.
The best teachers have always done this, and will continue to do so.