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  1. How Teachers Should Manage Expectations of Students, Parents and Communities
  3. The Critical 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs and Why
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We are excited to grab the new gadget and try to fit it into the classroom without preliminary assessment of its implementation challenges and potential effects, solid research, or laying out a theoretical foundation based on advanced pedagogic theory which will ensure its effective use. Technology as an entity contains an inherent pedagogical value Accuosti, , p. It pushes the limits of what educators can do but is not a magic wand; it is only a means, an instrument, a tool for an innovative teacher and learner.

Perhaps the revolution that we need, the one we should aspire to, is societal. It is certainly true that live interaction between students and their teachers offers worthy examples and enlightening experiences for students and gratifying moments for teachers. It further underestimates the need for sound pedagogy and quality teacher preparation. It may also have a devastating impact on our ability to socialize, collaborate, and survive. A strong warning about the negative effects of the Web comes from Maurer et al. This in turn makes the outcomes of online learning overly dependent on the LMS platform, washing away human interaction and communication by industrializing and formalizing learning.

Their observations support the findings of other studies that indicate learning occurs best when it involves a blend of online and face-to-face learning, with the latter providing essential intangibles best obtained on a traditional college campus. From this statement, one can extrapolate that technology alone cannot ensure productive and enriched learning and, especially, personal and social development as students still need a human element in a technology-enhanced environment. Additionally, when planning to apply a new technology to education, we have to consider its potential pedagogic and psychological effects.

Finally, we need a solid, innovative, theoretical foundation for online learning. This foundation would help teachers do a better job in both classroom and online environments than simply integrating computers and other gadgets into learning. As technology-based education is unquestionably going to grow, we need to make it pedagogically, psychologically, and socially meaningful and effective.

At the same time, we want to minimize its negative short- and long-term consequences, which reaffirms the need for a comprehensive theory of technology-based education and serious research.

Demand for online learning is largely driven by working adult students WALs willing to have broad access to education and, at the same time, to accommodate learning to their busy lives, rather than by its effectiveness as a cognitive tool, which is determined by its most attractive feature — convenience Christensen and Eyring, ; Song et al. In studies of student satisfaction, students commonly rate their online experiences as satisfactory, with convenience being the most cited reason Cole et al.

Convenience, along with comfort, helps reduce workload and complexity of learning, as well as the strain of face-to-face interaction with the class and instructor. It produces a sense of privacy and self-satisfaction. It also generates a false perception that online learning is easier than learning in the classroom Aaron, ; Westra, , and often leads to online cheating Spalding, The convenience, like the happiness factor, however, means a less demanding and less rigorous school experience Zhao, , p. Convenience can be a blessing for creative people, liberating them from the need to waste time and energy on trifles; however, it may also develop self-gratification and laziness instead of struggling with obstacles and doing the hard job of digging in the knowledge mine.

Yet, despite a number of studies showing that online learning is on a par with traditional, campus-based learning Ni, ; Wrenn, , it is going to take more time and effort to really make online learning deliver outcomes comparable to the traditional classroom-based, face-to-face education.

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We know very well online education suffers from restricted interaction among students and with the instructor, is deficient of live collaboration, and lacks opportunities for relationships that take form in a study group. These collective relationships are crucial for individual success. Productive online learning also depends on well-developed learning, technology, critical thinking, research, and even reading and writing skills, as well as strong intrinsic motivation, perseverance, and self-efficacy, which many students do not possess.

Finally, substituting real-life objects and processes with virtual reality is not helpful in developing practical skills, which makes real-world laboratory and experimental work less effective in virtual online environments. Still, the question remains whether online education has helped improve teaching and learning.

With the popularity of online education and enormous investment, do online college programs now prepare better specialists? Have we achieved the result we had expected, besides widening access to education for working adult learners, formerly marginalized groups, such as disabled students and minorities, and people geographically separated from the learning centers, thus reaching multi-million enrollment in online programs by and making sure that students enjoy convenience in their studies?

Innovative technology may bring performance enhancement in some ways but does not necessarily produce a direct benefit to education expressed by increased learning productivity. Are the secondary benefits, like convenience or fun with technology, worthy of heavy investment? What, then, is needed to raise the quality of education? The real question here is, as always, do we control technology, or do we let ourselves be controlled by it and those who have created it?

The raw powers of technology should be harnessed by sound pedagogy. Pedagogy of online education is just being developed, after two decades of titanic effort Serdyukov, a. Online learning is a big business Stokes, , which should be turned into a serious academic endeavor. When improving online learning, we should not narrow our innovative focus down to only technical solutions in all educational issues. We need to develop a broader look at all aspects of teaching and learning rather than trying to resolve problems and overcome barriers with technology alone. There are reasons for the discrepancy between the drive for educational innovation that we observe in some areas, great educational innovations of recent times, and the daily reality of the education system.

Moreover, education being a system itself is a component of a larger social supersystem, to which it links in many intricate and complicated ways. As a social institution, education reflects all the values, laws, principles, and traditions of the society to which it belongs.

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Therefore, we need to regard education as a vital, complete, social entity and address its problems, taking into account these relations and dependencies both within the educational system and society. In turn, if the society supports innovations in education, then its educational system will continuously and effectively evolve and progress.

If it does not, education will stagnate and produce mediocre outcomes. An example of negative socio-cultural impact on education is mercantilism, which is destroying the ultimate purpose of education, and consumerism which is degrading institutions of higher education Feeman and Thomas, ; Ng and Forbes, ; Abeyta, Other harmful social and cultural trends exert a powerful influence.

These include monetization of education, entitlement, instant gratification, and egotism, which destroy education in general and the development of creativity and innovative spirit of students in particular Kerby et al. Such grave societal issues must be dealt with forcefully. Second, it is well known that higher education has been historically slow to adopt innovations for various reasons Hoffman and Holzhuter, ; Marcus, ; Evans, Because it is complex due to cohesion and contuinuity of science and labor intensive, higher education is particularly difficult to make more productive Brewer and Tierney, Both secondary and higher education function as two separate and rather closed systems in their own rights.

They are not only loosely connected to the wider world but also suffer from a wide disconnect between high school output measured in graduate learning outcomes and college entrance student expectations. Innovation, whether it is with technology, assessment or instruction, requires time and space for experimentation and a high tolerance for uncertainty.

Disruption of established patterns is the modus operandi of innovation. Innovation is difficult to spread across school and academia because it disrupts the established routine and pushes implementers out of their comfort zone. Supporting something seen as secondary innovation in the face of pressure, far-reaching programs, external standards ranging from Common Core to Literacy, Technology, and Career Readiness becomes a matter of priority and job security.

In many instances, innovation in educational institutions does not take priority over pressing routine issues — really, abiding by the state standards is more urgent. Teachers and school administrators are commonly cautious about a threatening change and have little tolerance for the uncertainty that any major innovation causes. Of course there are schools and even districts that are unafraid to innovate and experiment but their success depends on individual leaders and communities of educators who are able to create an innovative professional culture.

Pockets of innovation give hope but we need a total, massive support for innovations across society. It was used by standardized testing companies to reap huge profits or, may be, vice versa, these companies influenced NCBL. The trend stifled true education and produced unsatisfactory learning outcomes that changed the nature of teaching, narrowing the curriculum and limiting student learning.

Fourth, even when an innovation comes to life, it is of little worth without implementation Csikszentmihalyi, Innovation is not about talking the talk but walking the walk.

How Teachers Should Manage Expectations of Students, Parents and Communities

Moreover, an innovation can make a significant difference only when it is used on a wide scale. To create innovations is not enough, they need to be spread and used across schools and universities, a more difficult task. For the innovation to make a sizable effect, we need an army of implementers together with favorable conditions for the invention to spread and produce a result.

Implementers in turn have to be creative and motivated to do their job; they must also have freedom to innovate in the implementation, security on the job to take risks, and control of what they are doing.


Ultimately, they need be trusted as are teachers in Finland to do their job right. Is this where one of the main problems of innovating lies? This is clearly an extension of the adaptive or differentiated approach to teaching and learning, thereby leading to customization of education Schuwer and Kusters, When we began to be more concerned about how students feel in the classroom, what bothers them, and how best to accommodate them to make their learning experiences superior and anxiety-free, we began to set aside the quality outcomes of the learning process.

Every cloud has a silver lining, fortunately. When market approach is applied to higher education, as it is in the current national and global competitive environment, the contest for enrollments increases and forces colleges to decrease attrition in all ways possible. This requires innovative approaches. The institutions that depend on enrollment for their revenue appear more willing to innovate than traditional, public universities that enjoy government support. Clearly, private institutions are more adept at innovating than public ones.

The market is a powerful factor, however, the changes it may bring have to be tackled cautiously.

The Critical 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs and Why

The hurdles to technology integration are described by Peggy Ertmer as external first-order and internal second-order barriers. The first-order barriers are purely operational technological , while the second-order barriers are applicational pedagogical. The difference in approaches to applying technology to teaching and learning overcoming technological vs pedagogical barriers might explain why huge investments in ET have brought little if any effect to the quality of learning outcomes.

Last but not least, innovations grow in a favorable environment, which is cultivated by an educational system that promotes innovation at all levels and produces creative, critical thinking, self-sufficient, life-long learners, problem solvers, and workers.

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This system enjoys a stimulating research climate, encourages uplifting cultural attitudes toward education, and rallies massive societal support. The ultimate question is, what innovations do we really need, and what innovations might we not need? The Finnish example can teach us a good lesson. Pasi Sahlberg identifies a set of reforms popular in many countries that Finland has not adopted, including: standardization of curriculum enforced by frequent external tests;.

Instead, the Finns went their own, the Finnish Way, so profoundly described by Pasi Sahlberg in his bestselling book Sahlberg, So would it be innovative not to adopt some reforms? A big question now arises, what is then the American way to build innovative education? And what would be the global way? To create innovations, we need innovators, and many of them. But though innovation is often a spark originated in the mind of a bright person, it needs an environment that can nourish the fire.

This environment is formed and fed by educational institutions, societal culture, and advanced economy. Csikszentmihalyi underlines the importance of creating a stimulating macroenvironment, which integrates the social, cultural, and institutional context, and also microenvironment, the immediate setting in which a person works. Then, when the invention is created, it must fall into a fertile ground like a seed and be cultivated to grow and bring fruit.