Instruction in the elementary and secondary classroom no longer involves just new pencils, paper and textbooks. The 21st Century learner incorporates technology including, but not limited to: computers, handheld devices, interactive whiteboards, cameras and online posters. In order to use this technology to educate, the teacher must first know how it works and how to use it. One way of doing this is to have online classes for instructors, librarians, and administrators. Once the teacher has some familiarity with hardware and software, then actual lessons can be discussed and developed. Since this is still new technology for education, constant monitoring and evaluation is necessary.
One of the best ways to learn how to use the technology is to sign on to a blog class. These are online classes that take you step-by-step through the basics of Web 2.0 and blogging and then expand your thinking to education. Library2play.blogspot.com is one such class that focuses on 23 things that every educator should know (SBISD, 2010). This course includes blogging, making an avatar, and using web tools that make fun products. Once a ‘student’ has gotten the hang of the class, examples are made that can be applied to the classroom.
Teachers also need tools to keep up with the technology and make it practical to use in the classroom. Online communities provide information, help, and motivation for the novice ‘techie.’ Using a bookmarking website also helps organize the large amount of information that a teacher needs to access. Diigo is one such bookmarking website that has groups like 'Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0' with updates of relevant websites sent to your email on a regular schedule. Many schools now have hardware that involves classes and hours of training. Online professional credit has taken the place of on-site training in many districts (Teachers Network Online Courses, 2010).
One of the first things to decide once you have some tools and training is what to put in your classroom, library and school facility. This includes hardware and software. Online research and professional journals are a good resource for starting the search. Education World (educationworld.com) is an online resource that has a list of classroom tools from teacher feedback (The Best Tech Tools for Teachers, 2010).
Many of the resources that are available for use in the classroom can be accessed with little cost once the hardware has been acquired. Many companies provide access to web materials as part of the hardware package. Online networks with evaluations of materials will be a good resource for monitoring what is working and worth the investment. There is a wealth of good information and educational material if the right amount of inquiry is made. Knowing how to use the internet and Web 2.0 tools will make the 21st Century educator ready for the 21st Century learner.