A New Education Environment

 When I taught Middle School Social Studies in the 1970s, I used a five-year-old textbook, a few old maps and globe, which predated WWII, a well managed but tiny school library and two stacks of ancient National Geographic Magazines, inherited from my grandparents and cut to pieces for the pictures. The New York Public Library’s upcoming release of 180,000 documents to the digital public domain is a small contribution to the vast infoscape that we learn in today. I taught with information scarcity. Today’s teachers teach in information abundance. This dramatically changes how we teach, what education looks like, and even what it means to be educated. 

9 thoughts on “A New Education Environment”

  1. nice blog..

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  2. I can give the alternative perspective, in that I have only been teaching over the last four years and have only taught in the age of “information abundance”. Thinking about engaging a history class with just a few resources/magazines is something that seems really daunting to me as an educator who uses quite a few different technological applications daily, and I have so much respect for the teachers who came before me. Being able to get students access to up to date news, visual/interactive media, research tools, and myself lesson plan ideas are all parts of my job that I feel would be very hard to not have access to.

    I do think the difference between this age of abundance over the age of scarcity lies in getting capturing student interest. Students today live in a world where the internet/social media can grant them access to content instantly anywhere. In my experience these students are both better and hindered by this age. Students do not get interested as easily and can often be lazy when it comes to putting in the work. I think the common theme among both the ages is that the teacher needs to capture their interest by relating content to their lives in meaningful ways, which is what educators across time strive to do.

  3. I like that you labeled the National Geographic Magazines as your best teaching resource. While I’m just beginning to teach in this technology age, and reliable resources can be found in abundance on the Internet, some times there is nothing better than holding a book or magazine and annotating on it’s pages. I agree that education has dramatically shifted, but in my opinion a well rounded, well balanced, student needs to be taught that older sources of print, not just digital print, are learning materials.

  4. Even in this information age there are still classrooms that struggle to come up with little more resources than you described here. The abundance of resources are only available to those who know how to access them. To have this advantage teachers have to continue to educate themselves and develop themselves professionally.

  5. I really like that you addressed this topic in the way that you did. The information that we have access to today is incredible. As an aspiring teacher, I am glad that this was brought to my attention because I think the information and resources that teachers use in the classroom have such an impact on the students’ learning. This is something that I will have to be constantly be thinking about when preparing lessons and such.

  6. I enjoyed reading your post. I began teaching chemistry in the 1980’s with not much more in the way of resources than you had. Today is a different world though. The amount of information at our fingertips is staggering and sometimes I feel like I am on information overload. However, the ability to quickly access information and converse with other professionals from around the world, has greatly enhanced my teaching and continues to support my life-long learning aspirations. I do have a question though about the use of e-texts. I began using an online textbook with my students last year and I primarily use them to go over problems and to assign additional homework practice. The students indicated that they liked having the online access rather than carrying another textbook around. Unfortunately, our district did not realize when they purchased our new chemistry textbooks (the publisher did not inform us) that the e-text access was only good for one year. I have been told that the district cannot afford to pay the very expensive annual subscription fee, so we no longer have access. In fact, the online access fee costs almost as much as a hard copy textbook. My question is, what are your thoughts on the use of e-texts, their costs, and does anyone have any suggestions on how they are able to afford e-text access for their students?

  7. I enjoy reading your post. I have been teaching for 17 years and I have seen the dramatic changes technology has brought into the classroom. Due to this rapid growth in technology and the enormous amount of information by the click of a button has force educator become more innovative. Traditional teaching is no longer effective. Students need 21st century skills and real-world connections in their learning. Yes, educations is different.

  8. I grew up in the 80’s so I can relate to your post. I’m currently working in a Title I school. We are stuck in the middle. We don’t have enough textbooks for students to take home and some of our students don’t have technology at home. My goal is to find grants for my school so we can offer up to date technology to offer our students. There is so much out there and I don’t want them to miss out or not be prepared for the real world!!

  9. I agree that there is an abundance of information available to teachers today that is used when planning and implementing instruction. When I need to switch up math work shop activities all I need to do is type “kindergarten subtraction activities” in to a search engine and suddenly I have thousands of printable materials. When I can make time for an art project, Pinterest can help me find a project that aligns with my unit theme.

    Access to so many resources has changed the way teachers plan and the supporting resources they use. I worry that many teachers have come to rely so heavily on easily accessible materials and it has taken some of the creativity out of teaching. Another concern I have is the validity of some of the materials being marketed to teachers online. Many of the new teachers I mentor go straight to various sites for worksheets before reading through our program materials. Like we teach our students, it is important to do research and make sure sources are valid and reliable before using them.

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