There is a new wave of education ideals which aligns with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that schools are supporting their curriculum and lessons with. With these new ideals of the CCSS comes a strong emphasis on technology in our new digital age. The ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) argue that technology in education is not only a desire for the times but a much needed improvement in how our children are learning. Incorporating collaboration, project based learning, problem solving, creativity, and higher order thinking skills is required for students to truly learn thus revolutionizing the way “students communicate, live, and work” (Common Core, n.d.). The foundation of my research will look into the benefits of using technology and social media in education and how it may enhance a student’s motivation in completing tasks and projects.
Technology in Education
First, I would like to introduce the term “digital native” and what it means to teach in the world of technology in our digital landscape. “Digital native” was coined by Marc Prensky (2001) in an article describing children native to the digital culture that exits. The kids today are all native speakers of a digital language that is filled with computers, smartphones, and video games. The term “digital immigrant” is for those born before the revolution of technology. Since I am already interested in social media, blogging, and digital learning I have been very eager to continue my research and become inspired by what other teachers are doing with tech in the classroom. Consequently, Sherry Turkle’s (2011) Ted talk “Alone Together” explains how technology has negatively replaced human interaction. Even though text messaging and emailing have taken over as the easiest and quickest means of communication, I feel that this is only a positive outcome to technology and social media availability. Just because we are doing things differently does not mean that it is replacing human interaction. Turkle suggests that we are dumbing down our communication but I disagree and believe that communication is becoming more reflective and thoughtful. We do think about what we are writing, even though we are often hiding behind our phones with texting, as we are most likely multi-tasking. As a professional, I feel this way due to the amount of work that I am constantly doing. Consequently, my students are also very busy individuals maintaining their classwork, jobs, after school activities, dance practice, performing, and family. They are often struggling to keep things in order. Many students say they are learning how to balance everything they are doing and it is quite stressful. I think that the reason they are able to get through the over programming (work, school, activities, friends) that is happening with today’s youth is because they have technology.
Turkle asked the question “Does tech serve our human purposes?” and I believe that it in fact does. As a “digital native” or “digital immigrant” we are in the age of communication and technology. There is no way to get out of it and its only going to become more pervasive. It comes down to literacy coming in different forms, as it is not only about reading books and physically writing anymore. Being literate is evolving along with technology, and schools need to learn to meet the needs of this new population. This generation of students can teach us, so we as educators should find out what our kids are using and figure out how to incorporate this in to their learning. This is the age of sharing and the student’s today share their lives via the internet and social media, thus putting out a certain “image” in their virtual world.
Technology, Web 2.0, & Social Media for Motivation
The CDE (Collective Discovery Engine), which is an opinion space on the benefits of using social media, creates an interactive visual and social environment that directly answers how social media and technology can enhance primary and secondary learning (Krishnan, Okubo, Uchino, Goldberg, 2012). This medium brings students together to interact on a platform that is familiar to them, which in turn increases a child’s motivation to participate. Furthermore, the question to explore is the impact of social media and the student’s desire/motivation. The research question from this article was not about dance but asked, “How can social media be used to benefit primary and secondary learning?” The researchers in this study found that the participants were more engaged and had higher responses when technology and social media were involved, for they discovered how Twitter exposes students to different views and perspectives in a quicker and more easily understood way. The use of video and was also positively viewed as the participants found it easier to learn from, than traditional lectures as a source for information. Out of the social media and technology tools, the study found that Twitter was favored most over all others.
Krishnan et al. (2012) also concluded that “Students can learn by watching other students in different places.” This is the pleasure and wonder of technology and social media. It exposes students to other cultures and movements and they are able to benefit from learning and collaborating from one another. Alvarez (2013) also found that technology allowed dancers to share easily where they were able to reuse or modify ideas through a student centered pedagogical approach with the use of Web 2.0.
21st Century Learning Consequently, through the multiliteracies lens I understand the child that uses social media is experiencing and taking part in conversations about their learning and viewing videos is simply just a great way to learn (New London Group, 1996). They are experiencing and applying each time they post or view a social media app or use a piece of technology for learning or leisure. Furthermore, social media can also be significant in higher education (Neil, 2012). This directly connects to my research question of student’s perceptions of how social media and technology can impact the learning of a dance student. The use of technology in itself is a participating source just as multiliteracies theory views its ways of learning. A student that is allowed to collaborate and share their thoughts, views, self, and creativity will provide a further balance for that student to think critically before each post. There are many ways educators can change in order to remain relevant in the fast changing digital age. Neil (2012) explains that there are new types of learners and young people are highly connected to each other and their technology. The study shows that, “Students entering universities are different. They’re highly connected, collective, and have creative qualities. They reflect more flexible, fluid, and accelerated ways of being” (Neil, 2012). He goes on to explain that social media is also highly associated with students being able to multitask, which in dance is always happening, “Social media users are described as having an enhanced capacity to self-organize and provide for themselves.” “There is a ‘new culture of learning,’” (Thomas & Seely-Brown, 2012). Students are being active participants and producers with the content of their posts and with what social media and technology provide. This will provide long term engagement for students’ transformation as creative digital authors (Alvarez, 2013). This supports students for collaborative work for a multimodal and multimedia experience. Communication structures for students from diverse cultural backgrounds are able to socialize successfully with multimodal multiliteracies of social media and technology (Mills, 2011). Furthermore, Kassing (2013) argues that in order for students “to become competent in today’s society, individuals need multiliteracies.” As a dance student they must understand the literacy of dance as well as information media and technology.
There is a “need to develop pedagogy 2.0” to support learner choice and autonomy. Thomas and Seely-Brown (2012) looked at YouTubeEDU, ITunes U, and Academic Earth as support in social media and learning and like the first article, found a positive effect of Twitter use on student engagement and grades. Buus (2012) also agrees that learning design models for social media and Web 2.0 for technology brings forth many positive learning possibilities. It allows students to become active participants in their education while maintaining important connections. Learning is also heightened with student centered and project based learning that can be mediated with a collaborative eLearning design method.
As I connect these ideas to my curriculum and research question I am able to get a lot of new insights and ideas to what I want to create in my classroom. Evidence and data gathered from another study was completed in the Netherlands with a sample compiled from various teachers in four different dance academies. The data was gathered from questionnaires and interviews and the results found that an appropriate ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tool should be used for practical dance classes to focus on facilitation of student reflection. Just as I believe, the study showed that “implementation of ICT tools into education in order to facilitate teaching and learning is increasing” (Leijen, Admiraal, Liesbeth, Robert-Jan Simons, 2008).
Simons (2006), states ICT allows students and educators create communication with others outside the educational setting. He argues, it “Gives students a more active role in learning through problem solving, decision making, inquiry and research, design activities and learning as meaning construction.” The study is appropriate to my research question and my curriculum in general. The final outcome concluded that learning is moving from teacher centered to a student centered approach that includes project based learning (PBL), which allows more possibilities for critical assessment and learning. The use of video and dedicated websites support the teacher and student in learning dance in multiple dance genres (ballet, modern, and jazz). There is a focus on student reflection in the technique and choreography classes that provided helpful tools that could be incorporated in dance classes. The whole process of learning dance is not only to teach technique and how to move properly but to think critically about their movement.
With this in mind, the 21st century skills map for the arts advocates integration of the arts with core subjects with a technological focus. They focus on critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, innovation, creativity, literacy (information, media, communication, and technology), social and cross cultural skills, and finally leadership and responsibility. This is what my curriculum will be based on in my dance program.
In closing, the common thread is the students are given autonomy to become more active participants in their learning and discovery with the use of technology and social media. There is an absolute importance of curriculum that can tie to sharing in the digital world. Educators need not be scared or intimidated by technology and social media as I see it as a bonus since students already have their smartphones and social media accounts. These handheld devices can create active and engaged learning to generate deeper knowledge and higher order thinking which the goal is for our new CCS (Common Core Standards). With mindful facilitation we can coach students to reflect and think through collaboration and project based learning with the use of their hand held device, social media, and tech apps. Reformulating dance education through the use of Web 2.0 and social media can bring about so many more possibilities and create lifelong learners in the process.