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Learning in the 21st Century October 16, 2010

Filed under: Social/Community Informatics — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 10:19 pm
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The more I read into this chapter, the more I found comparisons to office and educational life in the 21st Century. According to Understanding and Communicating Social Informatics, technological determinism treats ICTs as information processing systems whose technical characteristics cause specific social changes when they are adapted and used. Though it can be useful in situations, it has limited value in dynamic and complex situations that unfold over long periods of time. (p. 13)


Systems rationalism becomes a useful starting point in understanding the value of ICTs to an organization’s practices, social activities and work life. We are given examples of Social Nature of ICTs with the description of how Lotus Notes was used by an organization of consultants. Within their employee base throughout cities across the world, they could use Lotus Notes to share solutions to problems with consultants in other offices. (p. 17)


Another example used is university teaching (or for that matter, I would add teaching at any level in general). Some professors and teachers use the world wide web as a means of enhancing class materials and making it more readily available to their students.  (p. 20)  Online classrooms, it is the nature of the environment that professors prepare a curriculum that meets learning standard needs. It’s important to research materials and sites that can impact or enhance learning. Currently I am taking a photography course through ESC, The Photographic Vision. It is evident that the professor had done great research to pull together learning materials to help us develop our photographic abilities. This past week, we took a virtual field trip to the Digital Photography School (which is a wonderful wealth of information!) What is helpful in this style of learning is that we all found different areas of interest. With such vast information, part of our learning came from sites and articles that others found of interest. Of course, it’s not enough to say, “great post!” or “I like what you said.” We need to read through the information and get an understanding before responding.

The teaching style of primary and secondary education won’t change for the most part – the amount of face and interacting time between student and teacher. But the ways of delivery of information has evolved with the help of technology. In the 1990’s the use of the internet virtually brought students to places they have never and may never see with the help of video, text, images located on websites.  The 21st Century has broadened the use of the internet by being able to connect students with other classrooms across the globe by means of Skype.   SmartBoards that are finding their way into schools. Though the initial expense is high, they are definitely worth the investment.


I found two videos on the use of SmartBoards in the classroom that were interesting.  I think of the example of the business who brought in Lotus Notes to help the efficiency of their organization.  It brings to mind the current crisis in US Education.  With dwindling monetary resources, districts are forced to look outside the box to find ways to educate and engage their students.  In the case of engaging learners through technological means as an enhancement to daily learning, I believe that students will develop a broader understanding of a global society much better than they can from just a simple book inside 4 walls. For example, Skype conversations with students who are in Australia for example can connect students so they can find out first hand from people their own age, what life is like “down under.”  SmartBoards allows teachers who have developed a curriculum topic to share with other users.  They can borrow and share lesson plans in ways they were unable to in the past.


SmartBoard overview


In this first video, 5th Grade Teacher Lora Holt from LBJ Elementary in El Paso TX explains how she uses the Smart Board in her Science and Social Studies classes.  She does a brief overview of how the SmartBoards are integrated into her lessons.  In this example of classroom learning, ICTs enhance the learning experience.


SmartBoard Art Lesson


Sharon Campbell, a middle school teacher from Redwood Middle School,uses SmartBoards in her Art Class to deliver foundation learning.  In this, she and her students discuss color theory.  With the use of the Smart Board, the students take on the roles of both teacher and student as they are able to participate in delivery of the lesson.  With the use of ICTs, what used to be going to the chalkboard or dry erase board to answer a question has now advanced to a graphically appealing presentation.



Kling, R., Rosenbaum, H., Sawyer, S. Understanding & Communicating Social Informatics: A Framework for Studying and Teaching the Human Contexts of Information and Communication Technologies. 2005. New Jersey: Information Today.