One of the hottest topics in Educational Technology is the 21st Century Science Classroom. It is being discussed in faculty lounges, in teachers’ conferences, and even on social networking sites. People – parents, science teachers, and education specialists – wanted to know what it is and how it is done. Insights and interpretations are offered and analyzed.
Parents, teachers, and education systems specialists are all assigned to equip our children with the four C’s of 21st century skills –communication (effective transfer of information in scientific practice), collaboration (cooperative inquiry and investigation), creativity (innovation and artistry) and critical thinking in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields (STEM) – having the information and skills to carry out further education, to engage in the global marketplace and contribute meaningfully to the society.
Facing the inevitable changes in education and in technology, various state-run efforts and government-sponsored organization such as Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards acknowledge these changes and incorporate these key skills into tiered academic contents and standards frameworks as early as kindergarten. These redesigned standards can transform the science classroom and science learning.
The 21st Century Physical Classroom Arrangement
Aside from revolutionizing learning environments by installation and application of gadgets (audio-video conferencing, interactive whiteboards etc), 21st century science classroom should mirror an adjustable learning environment – moveable fixtures and equipments to conform to ever-changing teaching and learning needs. It all derived from the idea that teaching and learning are fluid processes; they cannot and should not be just contained in four walls of classroom. As such, new classroom design models have emerged to suit the philosophy. An excellent example is the classroom at the School of Environmental Studies in Minneapolis, an almost-transparent school building which also transfers academic learning into outside field.
The 21st Century Instructional Model: The Flipping
Flipped Classroom Model utilizes technology in providing instruction at home by watching interactive video lectures and explanation of science course content and moving the homework/assignment completion, laboratory and examination to the classroom. According to Jonathan Bergmann, a flipped classroom pioneer, it is not synonymous with online videos. The rationale also goes that students can spend the class time at school in working on their homeworks or any gaps around the lesson with the teacher as their guide.
The 21st Century Science Teacher
One does not stop at reinventing the science curriculum and the science classroom. Though no technology could fully replace carefully planned lesson and teaching methods, changes must be done in the direction of integrating technology into science teaching methodologies as well as in the role of educators as well. From being the provider of information, the science teacher becomes facilitator of learning. It could be tricky. The right tools should be properly utilized to meet the teacher’s objectives and the tools’ effective integration into lesson to turn learning engaging and relevant. And after becoming proficient in application of these tools in teaching, educators can adopt them to fully realize the technology’s positive effects on students’ learning and on themselves.
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