This is the second in my series of blog posts regarding the NETS for Teachers. Today we are continuing with the area of Student Learning and Creativity, which encourages teachers to utilize technology in various ways that excites students and enhances their imaginativeness. I am going to explore NETS-T 1b, which recommends that teachers Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
What are some examples of incorporating technology into real-world or authentic problem-solving? One great place to start is Problem-Based Learning (or Project-Based Learning, PBL). What is PBL? The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) states, "In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge." There are so many ways that a teacher can bring technology into the PBL process from the initial project starter (i.e. video), to the gathering of data (i.e. MeL database), to the presentation of the student findings (i.e. Prezi). Here are several resources with a wide variety of ways that technology can be used to enhance PBL: 50 Ways to Integrate Technology for PBL and Student Projects, Schools Embrace Project-Based Learning 2.0, and Project-Based Learning with iPads.
There is also another way to help your students learn how to solve problems with technology, through gaming and simulations. Here is a link to the Edutopia blog on Game-Based Learning that offers insights from various educators as to how to incorporate "gaming" into the educational process. I also enjoyed having the students create their own games using software like Scratch and Alice. For younger students, there are a few apps that I found in 7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills.
Take some time to find a few technology resources that will help your students to explore and solve real-world problems. It can be as simple as using technology to find information regarding a current world problem for students to study, like global warming. Or it could be more involved with an entire technology-enhanced problem-based learning experience. You might even be able to teach them through "gaming". Help your students prepare for the real world by learning to use technology as they solve problems.