Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
This post is part of a #Peel21st community “blog hop” in which participants share a digital learning experience in math. After reading this post, be sure to click the links to others’ posts at the bottom of the page, and make your way through all of the contributors.
I am a high school physics teacher and physics naturally has a lot of math in it. So, I decided I would post about a teaching experience I had a few years back and what it taught me about “21st century students.”
For a long time I have utilized some form of online social networking space in my classes (wikis, blogs, Ning, Elgg, Edmodo, etc.). I have found that providing an avenue for student voice online has contributed greatly to the sense of community that is built within my classes. Moreover, I have learned a great deal about my students and about physics from what and how my students share with the class. I highly recommend it!
Back in 2012, I was using Edmodo because it was easy to use and was one of the few platforms that had a mobile app (something that I think is very important if you want students to use the service). My students and I regularly shared ideas about physics, and links to YouTube videos that were either useful for learning physics, or demonstrated the amazing applications of physics. After providing my students with some additional practice questions in class, I logged in to see this:
Followed the next day by this:
Here is what stuck out most to me:
- These posts collectively had 165 replies, and most of the replies were substantial contributions.
- The initial posts were not a call for help, but an offer of service.
- These students were engaged in discussing mathematical problems on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening.
Compare this with my students in years previous, who were likely sitting at home, working alone on problems, and probably getting frustrated and giving up. These days, even if the teacher does not provide an online space for collaboration, students will often create their own because they know how much better they can learn when the connect with others.
Ultimately, the key take-away for me was that students want to learn together, and that digital learning spaces can really help to facilitate that sharing. Even when learning a subject that is as abstract as math, online spaces permit students to discuss concepts, share what they are learning, and ask for help. Blended learning environments are becoming essential for digital learners in the 21st century.
Pick a blog to jump to next. Happy hopping!