It is exciting to see theories in education develop that might assist us in better serving our students. The initial proposal of John Dewey’s Constructivism as a better method of engaging our students makes sense, if you think of a more engaged student having a higher commitment to learning. Such a learner-centric model can make the job of the educator more challenging. Different modalities must be tapped in order to increase the effectiveness for the wide variety of learners.
Howard Gardner’s eight intelligences (possibly nine) make us very aware of the high degree of customization that a teacher may need to reach students with a variety of learning styles. I had heard it once said that all education is special education. This reinforces that premise. One of the benefits of today’s learning environment is the increased access to technology that our teachers AND students have. These tools make for a powerful learning environment if we can apply some of these tools effectively.
In my own classroom, my students know that the answer to most of my questions asked in class is “It Depends” (yes, even in accounting). This fosters the follow-up conversation of depends on what. I also actively use online/interactive tools allowing for my students to gain understanding of the topic areas where they can pursue their own interests. My LinkedIn assignments, formerly extra credit, are now integrated into my curriculum where students can join professional and personal groups, connect to other professionals, post articles on their areas of interest and comment on the articles of their classmates. This semester, on a voluntary basis, I am integrating a Financial Accounting MOOC, sponsored by the Wharton School, for those students willing and able to dive deeper into the subject material. The final project of all my foundation classes revolves around my students choosing companies in industries that they have an interest (potential employer, family experience with similar companies, or exploring a company/industry totally new to them). They then can present to the class using the fundamentals of financial statement analysis, but they are also encouraged to present their perspectives using a variety of formats and technologies.
The future of education is being impacted daily as new tools, apps and resources continue to develop. We as professional educators need to ride this train to best help our students. I always say that one of the reasons I teach is that I learn a lot when I teach. I do not see that slowing down! I hope my students feel the same way!!