‘Technology-enabled active learning’ spurs achievement

Using a technology-rich environment to promote collaboration and independent learning, we’ve seen student engagement—and achievement—rise

Using ‘technology-enabled active learning,’ Bishop Moore Catholic High School has seen student engagement—and achievement—rise.

If Norman Rockwell were to a paint a 21st-century classroom, would his painting look anything like his 1956 piece “Teacher’s Birthday,” with the students sitting in tidy rows patiently waiting for their teacher to impart wisdom from the front of the room?

At Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, Fla., students are no longer looking to their teachers for all the answers. Instead, teachers are training their students to acquire knowledge on their own.

Understanding the young adults of the 21st century means understanding their frame of reference. Teenagers today have never been without technology. Indeed, our students have never lived without cell phones, personal computers, or the internet. Children today are as connected as we are as adults—in some cases, even more so!

Rather than asking students to power down, our teachers at Bishop Moore Catholic are teaching them how to use their technology for more than just social media and games. Along with the skills they already know, students are learning how to use the technology tools that are so near and dear to them more effectively.

In the summer of 2010, we invited a handful of alumni to our campus for a dinner meeting. We wanted to know how they were learning in college, what they were learning, how well we had prepared them for higher education, and what we could have done differently to prepare them better for college. The common thread among their answers was that we needed to allow students to have more opportunities to collaborate.

Once we had this information, we looked at how we were delivering content and what we were asking students to do. We found most of our teachers were still following a teacher-centered instructional model, and we began our quest to switch the pedagogy from front-of-the-room, teacher-centered instruction to student-centered, student-driven learning, empowered by technology.

(Next page: How ‘technology-enabled active learning’ works)

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