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Outlook 2013: Technology changes high school classrooms

Technology is changing the way students learn in the classroom. Advances allow for more collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking, said Derrel Fincher, of the Oklahoma Education Department.

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: April 28, 2013

As educators look to the future of learning, a few things are constant: the student, the teacher and the subjects.

But how and where high school students learn is rapidly changing, said Derrel Fincher, director of learning technologies at the state Education Department.

Students will spend more time working together and problem solving than ever before, and the technology used in the classroom is a supporting piece of those changes, Fincher said.

“You want the technology to disappear in the background,” he said.

One of the biggest trends in education is personalized learning, Fincher said. Students learn together, but teachers are able to tailor subjects to individual needs.

“I think of it as collaboration and joint creation, and joint knowledge building,” Fincher said. “The emphasis on collaboration is starting to build.”

Creating a more personalized learning environment doesn’t mean children will work alone, Fincher said.

Classrooms are shifting away from cooperation and toward collaboration, Fincher said. Instead of students doing parts of a project and clumping them together, they are working to solve real-world problems. It better reflects how adults work together.

“If you look at anything that happens in industry, it’s always multiple people working together,” Fincher said. “Those who struggle the most in industry are those who are very bright but can’t work with others.”

The structure allows students to direct their own learning in many cases. Relinquishing control to students is a change for teachers, Fincher said.

Technology advancing; methods changing

Three-dimensional printing, remote laboratories, live video feeds of world events and wearable technology are all on the not-too-distant horizon for students. Online learning will expand.

A big challenge will be to keep up, Fincher said.

“One of the difficulties we have in Oklahoma is making sure all the schools have enough technology and that teachers are trained to use it,” he said. “Teachers need support. They can’t do it all themselves.”

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