My boys started school this week. On the first day, I spent a few moments in my son’s third grade classroom with him, hoping to engage him in a conversation about his new “learning space.” My son was born in 2002. He loves selecting his favorite songs on iTunes and listening to them on his shiny green (his favorite color) iPod Nano. His Nano fits in the tiniest of pockets. It includes his favorite songs, a few movies I’ve added for him, video games and a video camera that he uses to capture silly moments or his latest bicycle trick.
As we stood there in his classroom, I looked around at the perfectly aligned desks and colorful posters on the wall. I asked him, “What’s your favorite part about your new classroom?” He paused and thought for a moment. Then he proceeded to walk to the front of the room and place both of his arms around the big, gray, rickety overhead projector — “This. This, Mommy, is my favorite thing.”
It was not a cool, new doc camera. It is a basic, old overhead projector — complete with a transparency lying on its surface and dry erase markers nearby. My son knows that I too had overhead projectors in MY classrooms when I was his age. He didn’t have to say one more word to me to convey his message.
Teacher, professor, grad student, principal, instructional designer, dean, president, instructional assistant, librarian, chancellor — it doesn’t matter what your title is. We are all educators. Our end goal is to educate. A 21st century education demands 21st century tools to engage 21st century learners.