My current class in my doctoral program, Technology and Educational Leadership, has opened my eyes to the endless learning tools available using Web 2.0 technology. Given the vast amount of free material on the internet with a click of a mouse, I do hope and believe that very soon textbooks in schools will become obsolete. Imagine the financial benefits for states and school districts if educational leaders began to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies and 21st-century learning into the curriculum, not to mention the additional benefit of ending the textbook industry’s control and manipulation over education.
Having a twice-exceptional child who does not fit into the standard mold, I am always sharing new ideas with his teachers in the hopes of discovering new ways they can challenge and motivate him to learn new things. This is especially difficult in the sciences, which is his area of giftedness. For his 9th-grade biology teacher, the challenge has been how to create new learning situations for him that will expand his knowledge and encourage creativity and growth in his area of passion. As is typical with twice-exceptional kids, their asynchronous development produces highs and lows that can be dramatic. This uneven development also makes it difficult for him to show his learning in a traditional sense such as through writing or multiple choice tests. This is where the internet comes into play!
I recently sent my sons’ biology teacher a series of emails with links to many different science-based tools she can use in her class for enrichment as well as remediation. This is what is so exciting about 21st-century learning…it offers the adaptability that textbooks can’t!
Here a few of my exciting discoveries!
An example of an Open Education Resource (OER) is https://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm. Teachers and students have access to individualized lessons, texts, interactive science demonstrations and simulations, and quizzes on any subject possible. Students and teachers are always adding content to the site which encourages collaboration and teamwork. Below is a video link explaining how MERLOT II works.
Another great resource for differentiating science instruction and incorporating 21st century learning through Sumanas, Inc. http://www.sumanasinc.com/webcontent/animations/biology.html. This educational site offers teachers another pedagogical tool to make science more compelling for students. The service provides expertise in all scientific areas through an innovative educational platform that combines traditional course materials with enhanced graphics, video and animation. Below is a screen shot of a video example from SUMANAS, Inc.
A final science-based tool I want to share is http://www.dnaftb.org/. This incredible website offers lessons in all the sciences from genetics and DNA, molecules and bacteria, and everything in between. Each lesson explains the basic concept with animations, a picture gallery, videos, problems, and links. Below is a screen shot of the websites home page.