Dubai, UAE: John Dewey, a renowned philosopher and education reformist once said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday; we rob our children of tomorrow”. His statement stands true, especially in the 21st century where education is undergoing reformation and progression. With the internet playing an integral role in the lives of students, teaching today is all about fewer textbooks and more technology.
Recognising this shift in education, Murdoch University Dubai organised its annual Master of Education Workshop on ‘Learning and Leading: The Role of Teachers in 21st Century Education.’ Held on February 23, 2015 at the Gloria Hotel, the workshop showcased the research and projects of some of the M.Ed students to give educators ideas and inspiration for their own practice, and also to encourage them to think about taking their education journey to the next level.
Jenny Murray, MENA Regional Manager for LendMeYourLiteracy.Com (LMYL), started the workshop with a discussion on ‘Using Collaborative Tools for Literacy’. Her own research on LMYL was conducted while studying the Masters of Education programme at Murdoch University Dubai. LMYL is an online sharing platform which publishes the work of students from around the world, providing a “real, global audience for students”, and has enhanced collaboration between teachers and students all over the world. It is one of the tools of online literacy that is now gaining prominence in schools and allowing technology to open classroom doors.
Scott Charlesworth and Dean Van Velzer, Middle School Teachers at the Victoria International School of Sharjah showcased how technology can make learning more effective and interesting. Their presentation on ‘Game Based Learning – Using Minecraft in the Classroom’ stemmed from the realisation that their students were “digital natives and none of them had lived in a world where there was no internet.” “We need to acknowledge this and adapt it in our classrooms and learn the language of technology that our students are so fluent in”, said Scott. Advocating Authentic Learning, they both explained how Minecraft can be used across various subjects such as building 3D models in History or exploring concepts of cell structure in Science, proving that digital learning technology such as this will change as to how students access knowledge.
Recognising the importance of technology, Allison Buckley, Learning Support at the Latifa School for Girls further explained how Professional Development can encourage embracing 21st century learning. She stated that, “Students use technology on a daily basis at home and it would make sense to use them in the classrooms so that students are not in two isolated environments.” Educators need to start using technology because it allows them to design authentic learning tasks that were previously inconceivable.
The workshop was well attended by more than 90 educators from leading schools in the U.A.E; and it allowed them to reflect on the impact technology can have on today’s classrooms. Claire Macrae, Head of the Master of Education programme at Murdoch Dubai, in her closing remarks, reiterated the importance of being a change agent and also demonstrated how educators can lead change at their own schools. As part of an ongoing initiative to provide opportunities for learning and engagement, the university will be organising a Forum for School Counsellors on March 25, 2015 followed by the Murdoch Youth Film Festival in April. Further workshops on 21st Century learning are also being planned for teachers.
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