Technology in the classroom can either be productive and advantageous to learning or completely distracting. Many teachers hesitate to take on new technology in their learning environment, but the reality is that technology can truly revolutionize education. It is simply too valuable and too late to keep it out of our students’ hands. If we, as leaders and life-long learners ourselves, choose to keep students in a “tech-free bubble,” we are only limiting them from becoming critical thinkers, problem solvers, and global citizens. Instead, we should be searching for the programs, devices, and apps which are a good fit and balance for 21st century learning to adopt in our classrooms.
In the work of Quest Forward Learning, we build quests as relevant experiences for students, not a supplemental activity for “early finishers.” Built on foundational principles, the program encourages students and mentors to create authentic learning experiences (read more on how Quest Forward Learning became a powerful changemaker, rather than a powerful distraction, here). Students are encouraged to experiment, investigate, act, observe, and collaborate; We believe for a student to fully understand a concept it is important for them to experience it firsthand. This approach will not only lead to higher engagement, but will also help build relevance and connections between the technology, the content, and the student. While resources are provided throughout the platform (i.e. videos, audio, articles, etc), they should all support the discovery and exploration of concepts through different viewpoints. So how can mentors introduce the Quest Forward methodology and technology into their learning space appropriately?
Similarly to any new tool adopted in a classroom or learning environment, you will need to be thorough and thoughtful about how you introduce Quest Forward Learning and its corresponding new routines into your students’ lives. The Quest Forward Platform encourages personalized learning, moving the responsibility of learning from the mentor to the students, while still supplying guidance, feedback, and coaching from mentors. Overall, this allows the students to have the freedom to choose their learning path, support from technology resources, and opportunities to participate in new routines. Mentors are taught to make active efforts to plan ahead and make learning meaningful and engaging. Some ways to proactively encourage students to step away from their devices and interact with mentors/peers are:
- Provide opportunities and support towards student autonomy and leadership. Let students be the teachers of both the technology and the academic content.
- Model appropriate independent, collaborative, and whole group behaviors. Mentors should be champions of digital citizenship, modeling how to behave responsibly and creating a positive digital footprint.
- Promote student interest through quest content. Use check-ins and artifact showcases as an opportunity for students to share their passions, curiosities, and interests outside the realm of a device.
- Establish a positive mentor-student relationship with positive discipline procedures. The technology, product, or platform are tools for learning, but not the “everything.” Do not undervalue the mentor-student relationship in the facilitation of learning.
- Quests should prompt engagement, collaboration, and critical thinking by providing practice of the essential habits and functional skills.
Adopting new technology in your learning environment is an important topic in schools and organizations today that often leads to other questions: How do I support focus and growth within the framework of the technology? What tweaks should be made to the physical environment that can maximize authentic learning? What do I do when my internet or technology is unreliable? We understand the complexity of the issue and will continue to look at it through a variety of viewpoints, including research, learning design, and mentor perspectives.