Being engaged in our democratic society isn’t something that many people learn at home anymore. Whereas young people used to learn how to live and be part of a democracy by watching their parents interact with local associations (e.g., The Elks, the local church group, the town council, etc.), few youth get that opportunity today. It is still the mission of our educational system to support this learning if our democracy will continue to flourish.
Included here are some resources for teaching students (and ourselves) about what it means to be civically engaged, how to “do” civic engagement, and what the societal implications of such engagement might be.
When I talk to teachers, parents, and community members about what 21st Century Education could/should look like, most often, the conversation turns to technology. However, technology is simply a conduit to motivated, meaningful learning. Getting out out into the community, making connections between the “knowledge, skills, and dispositions” learned in the classroom and applying, synthesizing and evaluating them in real-world contexts promises to prepare our students for the future far more than learning to create an inauthentic video portfolio.
Look closely at this picture. See anything special about the way the students are learning? Probably not. To many, this picture probably brings back memories of typing class or one of those technology classes where the teacher lectures about how to make the computer do what the assignment dictates. What you can’t see here is the critical and creative thinking tin which the students are engaging, the group work that they are about to conduct, and the intrinsic motivation that they have to complete the assignment.
In this section, we will discuss what research says are some of the most promising practices in teaching with technology, how to work with technology ourselves, and how technology can be used to increase students’ intrinsic motivation to do meaningful work.